Summary: Thoughts for Remembrance Day • That we should be thankful for the sacrifice of others • That we should be dedicated to work for peace and justice in the world • That we should be sorry for human sin and evil.
Remembrance Sunday (Ps 46:1-11)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps 46:1)
Story: Many of you will recall Lt. General Sir William Dobbie (Dobbie of Malta) who was Governor General of Malta during the Second World War – at a time when the defence of Malta was at its darkest hour.
The Italian forces had overwhelming superiority, both in numbers and firepower. Yet Malta never fell to the enemy – and for their courageous stand - the whole island was awarded the George Cross..
Historians still cannot understand why the Italians did not take the island, given its strategic position.
Dobbie, a committed Christian, realised the weakness of his position and that God alone was “his present help in trouble”.
His first “Special Order of the Day”, defining policy governing the defence of the island read:
"The decision of His Majesty’s Government to fight until our enemies are defeated will have been heard with the greatest satisfaction by all ranks of the garrison of Malta.
It may be that hard times lie ahead of us, but however hard they may be, I know that the courage and determination of all ranks will not falter and that with God’s help we will maintain the security of this fortress,
I therefore call upon all officers and other ranks humbly to seek God’s help and then in reliance upon Him to do their duty unflinchingly.
(A Very Present Help – Sir William Dobbie p. 11-12)
Those were the words of a Christian General engaged in the height of the Second World War. His Christian faith was a reality when under fire. He looked to God for strength in the tasks that he had to do.
Although Dobbie survived Malta, the war took its toll and he was invalided home in 1944.
Sadly we take the sacrifice of the many men and women who served in the Forces during the War for granted. We too easily forget the price of the peace we enjoy.
I think Remembrance Sunday is one of the most important services in the Christian year – a time when we stop to “remember them”
I am not old enough to remember the Second World War – I was born ten years after it ended.
But my father and my Uncle Don were involved in the war.
Story: Dad served in the North African campaign
and was at Alamein with Monty . He also served in the Italian campaign and at Monte Casino, the blast of the guns badly damaged his hearing.
Towards the end of his life, Dad told us how the
ravages of war had weakened his heart – which eventually gave out 15 years ago.
Dad never talked much about the war.
Though I do remember him once telling me how he was walking through a field in single column one day. And an enemy shell fell on the Canadian soldier behind him. The man simply ceased to exist – some mother’s son for whom the family would grieve.
General Sherman, the American Civil War General once said: “War is hell”. How true it is.
Story: Uncle Don lost his hair when as a young lad of about 20. He was twice torpedoed on a ship that in the transatlantic convoys.
The loss of his hair scarred him for life – leaving him with a very low self worth.
Yet Dad and Uncle Don were the lucky ones – they survived. Many of their friends – and your friends - did not make it through the war years.
1. The Sacrifice
Today we recall the millions of servicemen gave their lives in both World Wars so that we might enjoy peace today.
And we also need to remember that there have been other conflicts since then – the Korean War, the Falkland War and the two gulf Wars in which our troops have fought.
The ability to remember is a wonderful gift that God has given to mankind. Some of our memories are happy and we can recall wonderful experiences.
But some of our memories are sad and we may
weep as we remember them.
Even though the Second World War ended 58 years ago and the First World War 85 years ago - it is important that we remember that many still bear the scars of war today.
And it is good for us to remember those who have fought for their country, to support them and to pray for them.
Today is a day when we say “Thank you” to all those who made the sacrifice that we can stand here today in peace and freedom.
We have read out the names of those who died this morning. But we must not forget those who are still suffering as a result of these wars.