Rev. Rosemary Webb
10th November 2013
Remembrance Sunday

Last week the media gave much prominence to a student leader who had banned the members of his union from attending Remembrance Day services. For someone like me it is just nearly beyond comprehension. Remembrance Day doesn’t glorify violence it reminds us of the suffering and sacrifices that war brings.

I was born as Hitler was, I think invading Poland, just prior to the last world war, and war and suffering has never truly ceased since then. I suppose for people of my generation, who spent five years with a war raging in the skies above them, war and fear walked hand in hand. I remember my friend whose father was killed when she was about four, and because she wanted to feel her father was still with her, she always carried his war medal wherever she went. And that tremendous grief hasn’t changed as we were all so tragically reminded when James was killed four years ago.

I suppose the question I am asking is what can we, who understand the horrors of war, do to ensure that our nation never forgets, forgets the anguish, but also never forgets the price the world has had to pay for freedom. And not just those gave their lives but those who survive physically but who are scarred forever. Peter’s father was in the Somme, but never mentioned it until, the BBC did a programme about the battle and his grandchildren wanted to know more and began asking questions, and for the first time in 60 years he spoke about it.

He wasn’t, still isn’t ,the exception, we must never, ever forget what others have done for us, and the scars the families of those killed and the servicemen and women who survived carry with them. Perhaps those who think we glorify war by remembering need to talk to those who still bear the scars of war – not just the scars of Iraq or Afghanistan but WW2, Korea, Cyprus, the Falklands the list is endless.

In the Gospel reading Jesus is telling the Pharisees and Sadducees to stop arguing and listen to him, for he is the living God, and that is still his message today. In the Epistle Paul is telling the Thessalonians that they had suffered at the hands of their countrymen, just as the church had suffered at the hands of those who killed Jesus. That faith in God will always annoy some people, there always will be people who are hostile, but that through faith all who believe in God will be saved.

As Christians we cannot and must not ignore the awfulness of war, and the atrocities that come with hatred. But our Christian hope can look beyond it, to that Kingdom where the Son of Man reigns in glory, and whose coming is pointed to in the Gospel, that kingdom , which we are promised, will belong to all those whose faith endures to the end. Paul tells us to proclaim the Gospel despite opposition, to keep the faith, to live with hope and to show love to all.

A few years ago we visited the battlefields of the Somme – you can still see the scars of war left nearly one hundred years ago, but you also see hope, for there are new trees, new greenery, new life. God will not be killed in the battlefield, any more than on the Cross, he has and always will strike back, love will survive, and with love there will be memories not just of love but of suffering, fear and anguish.

So as we wear our poppies, stand in silence, we are not glorying war, but giving thanks not just to those whose names you will hear, but to the millions who have served our country so that we may have freedom.