Last year at Remembrance I considered the question ‘who are you remembering?’ and the fact that not all of us know someone in the Military, but we do know others who have given their all in service of others, be that in the Emergency Services or as a member of the general public.
I want to follow on from that and consider how we remember those we have never met or knew. In 1989 HMS Brilliant was part of the UKs Armilla patrol operating in the Gulf, protecting UK shipping during the Iran / Iraq war. The day before she was due to enter Mombasa, Kenya, for two weeks R and R her Lynx helicopter crashed on the coastline south of the town killing 9 members of the crew. A memorial was erected at the site of the crash, which I visited on three separate occasions over the years. We conducted remembrance services at the memorial, and cleared it of vegetation etc. Over the years the memorial fell into disrepair and the plaque etc was removed and I believe it is now in the chapel at the Mission to Seafarers at Mombasa.
I did not know any of the 9 personnel killed in that crash, so why should I remember them and be involved in those services on that remote beach in East Africa?
Firstly because I wanted to say ‘Thank you’ for their service, although they had not died as a direct result of conflict, they served in Her Majesties Royal Navy and were prepared for whatever that might mean. That in itself warrants saying ‘Thank you’ for in my book (some may not agree!).
Secondly, because it helped me. No, I did not know them, but acknowledging their sacrifice and willingness to give themselves for a greater cause helped focus my mind on my own attitudes towards others. Yes, I had signed on the dotted line the same as those 9 men, but was I actually prepared for what that might mean? I guess in times of war and conflict it was all brought into sharper focus, but no-one actually expected to go away on a peacetime deployment and not come back. Was I ready to accept that? On examination the answer actually was ‘yes’ …
Jesus made that ultimate sacrifice for us, he died on a cross for you and me, that we might have eternity with him. Was he prepared for that when he came to earth as a man? I would say he knew what lay ahead for him, but he still had his moments of ‘not sure about this is there another way’ .. (In the Garden of Gethsemane before he died).
So on this remembrance Sunday, as we reflect and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for others in war and peace, lets not only think about them and say thanks, but reflect on what that means for us as individuals. What causes would we be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for?
Those of us who are Christians, who have ‘signed on the dotted line’ are called to follow Jesus, and imitate him. How far are you prepared to go to fulfil this commitment? What are you and I prepared to sacrifice in order not just to remember his sacrifice and say ‘Thank you’, but to add ‘I’m up for this come what may …
Image Credit: Zhen Hu