Summary: We will remember them, those who gave their lives. We also remember our Lord who also gave his life not only for his friends but his enemies also. Where then is God?
This sermon was delivered to Holy Trinity in Ayr,
Ayrshire, Scotland on the 12th November 2017
(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen.
Today is Remembrance Sunday, a day where we commemorate the contribution of the British and Commonwealth military and civilian services in the two World Wars … and the later conflicts. …
Across the United Kingdom this morning, there are many such ceremonies … many poppy wreaths of remembrance will be laid … and there will be a two minutes' silence in respect … of those who gave their life: … of those who were injured; … of those who returned home to pick up the pieces … and of those who simply never returned. … We remember too, those at home who supported campaigns … and we pay tribute to the innocent who suffered needlessly.
These services are always very solemn, sincere and sad, always respectful, particularly the service at the cenotaph in London, [which has been televised since 1946, the longest-running annual live televised event in the world]; and for many people that may not go to a service themselves, watch this program … and in their way, they can pay tribute privately.
There is also another service on the Saturday night from the Royal Albert Hall, and that is the one I have always engaged with since I was a boy … and from that service, I was some reason encouraged to join up and do my bit … but as you know the Merchant navy was as far as I got, although we must also show respect for both our navy’s and the seamen and woman who gave their lives during those conflicts, and without whose help, Britain would surely have starved.
2. The silence on remembrance of those who died
Today is a time to remember, and what I particularly like is the silence … the two minutes silence which represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the guns of Europe fell silent. It is a silence where all our thoughts go to these brave men and woman who took part … and it is the only time on our calendar where the whole country falls silent, thinking about something other than themselves. … What a moment to cherish; and I have always loved that … no telephones; no chatter just silence to remember them; a silent you can feel.
And on the Saturday night service, during this silence I was always fascinated by the thousands of poppies that are dropped from the ceiling of Royal Albert Hall onto the various representatives below; … I always enjoyed watching them flutter down and land beside them … landing on their cloths … on their heads … in fact just land anywhere. I remember someone once saying to me, that each poppy represents a life lost during those wars and I remember feeling bad because there were so many. … Years later someone said to me, those poppies were only a token in number of those who died, as there were so many that were killed, and that it was physically impossible to have one poppy per person dropping from that ceiling. … That was even more people than I thought, and I think that this really hit it home to me the sacrifices … the wanton destruction … and the evil that men and woman do. … What a waste … what a world we live in.
3 Why the poppy?
And I also never remember asking the question, why use the poppy to symbolise the fallen, even it was kind of obvious that the red poppy represented the blood that was sown, and that the poppy was one of the first flowers to grow after the armistice was declared … just like they had done after the destruction brought about by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, which also transformed bare land into fields of red … red both for the blood of the slaughter, and red for the poppies when the fighting had ceased … however it was not until 1918 that the poppy became the national symbol of the natural cycle of war and a memorial to the fallen, … a symbol adopted by the Royal British Legion of those serving in the British armed forces, and we therefore cannot promote it high enough.
3 So many wars
The common corn flower poppy … is now a popular symbol of the blood that flowed … yet despite all the acts of sacrifice and heroism throughout the centuries, we live in a world that is at war with itself. … Even the society of International Law in London states this incredible statistic: … that since the beginning of recorded history … the entire world has been at peace less than 8% of the time. … Just think, that over the last 4000 years of history, only 268 years saw peace, which means that this world has been at war with itself for 3732 years … and in that time, more than 8000 peace treatises have been made, and broken.