I’ve found that as you get older your tastes and preferences change. One thing for me has been the festivals and seasons that I prioritise and that move me. As a child it was very much all about Christmas. Now I find that the two marker points through the year are increasingly are Easter weekend (including our Good Friday breakfast and communion) and Remembrance Day/Remembrance Sunday.
It’s not that Christmas isn’t still enjoyable and isn’t still an opportunity to share the good news (though I wonder if the very fact that we have to talk about making use of that opportunity rather than simply enjoying it for itself says something). It’s that I find even greater joy in taking time to focus in a special way annually on what we remember every week, Christ’s Death and Resurrection.
Remembrance Day is also special because of that opportunity to reflect. I think it has become particularly important because on the one hand, the specific events that focus our memory, the First and Second World Wars are becoming more distant memories (It was my Grandparent’s generation that served in World War II) and remote (the general call up is long past as wars are fought by professional armies) but on the other hand is also more present through the refugee crisis and terrorism.
Remembering and honouring those who serve is not to glory war. Prior to coming into pastoral ministry, I worked in the Defence Industry and in my experience, it is those who are most closely involved whether in the Armed Forces or the industries and services that support them who are the wariest and the least gung-ho about conflict.
Rather, remembering them is to recognise that war comes with a huge cost and great suffering. Sadly, the human condition means that war happens so that the relative peace we enjoy also comes at great cost.
As a Christian I am encouraged that there is still a strong Christian focus within the act of remembrance at the Cenotaph and the Festival of Remembrance with hymns, prayers and Bible readings. It reminds me that despite their best efforts, governments and international organisations cannot solve the ills of this world and cannot bring peace.
Remembrance Day takes me back to the one who suffered death for me. The greatest peace is peace with God and it was bought at great cost. Remembrance Day pushes me to look forward to with hope for that day when Christ will come and we will know an end to all conflict and eternal peace.