A crowd of us gathered around the cenotaph outside St Thomas’ church in Chesterfield for remembrance Sunday. Minutes earlier we had been inside for a 45 minute service attended by the mayor and various other civic representatives such as the police. But now we were standing outside looking at long lists of names chiseled into the stone. Matt, the rector, opened in prayer and then a young girl, standing alone with a bugle hauntingly played the last post. There was something poignant about that. A young girl, courageously playing a bugle in front of the great and the good of Chesterfield in honour of those who had been killed in war.
It only lasted 15 minutes but I tell you, I had a lump in my throat the whole time. I’m trying to work out why? After-all, I don’t know anyone who has died in war.
Perhaps there is something powerful about remembering? We all too easily ‘forget’ in our culture and move on. Worse than that, we have learned to shut out the bad stuff, often living lives of denial. Earlier in the meeting the curate had reminded us that 111 people from the British military had been killed in the last year. Asking the children to take a name out of a basket to take back to their seats and a white ribbon to place on a cross, 111 people in the congregation simultaneously had called out a name as an act of remembering. Standing outside I had images in my mind of young men and women over the last 100 years whose lives had been wiped out. I found that tough to process.
I reckon there is something equally powerful about honouring. I don’t think we are very good at that either. I was sad to see, on armistice day, some people making subtle protests about fighting and war and others saying that we had gone too far in revering our armed forces. In all honesty I agreed with some of the comments I was seeing in blogs and on facebook but surely there is a time and a place for debate and comment? I don’t think it’s Armistice Day. Sometimes we need to stay silent and just, well … honour?
Over and above all of these thoughts however was a deep sense I had all morning of the power of the cross and the reality that one day all of this will pass because of Jesus.
All through the morning my mind was playing over the verses in Isaiah 9.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
I am grateful that one day all of this will pass and that there will be a new heaven and new earth. I’m grateful that Jesus died so that one day there can be a peace, the likes of which has never been seen before. I’m grateful that He is alive and at work now, transforming lives. I have seen people who were once full of hate leading lives that now overflow with compassion and love. Only knowing Jesus can cause such a change. And that’s where I put my hope … and I think thats why ultimately, I felt so moved.
I was also left feeling more determined. More determined to introduce men and women to Jesus, to see lives changed and people’s eternal destiny secured.
I’m glad I know Jesus.