CALL TO REMEMBRANCE
I lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121.1-2
“In 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the guns fell silent on the Western Front, to bring to an end the First World War. Our nation and commonwealth has recalled that moment through our Armistice and Remembrance events down the decades, decades during which the men and women of our armed services have continued to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
And, so, many years later, we stand here today to remember lives sacrificed in the service of our Country, and those traumatised and injured in conflict, and their families. May we in our time have such a devotion to justice and freedom that the names of all who have made such sacrifices will continue to be remembered by us as we seek to be a nation of service and live in a world of peace.”
Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted, either by death or life: hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all whom we remember this day. Fulfil in us the purpose of your love; and bring us all to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord God of the nations, whose sovereign rule brings justice and peace, have mercy on our broken and divided world. Pour out your peace into the hearts of all that all races and peoples may learn to live as members of one family in obedience to your law, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reading of Names
Laying of Wreaths
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
The Kohima Epitaph:
When you go home tell them of us and say,
for your tomorrow we gave our today.
Lament on the pipes (Mr Main)
Reading Isaiah 2:3 – 5
3 Many peoples will come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.
5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Reflection – Remembering and Longing
The other day I came across this little book at home: Don’ts for Husbands. It contains such advice as…[a few ‘Don’ts’ were read].
If it was ever relevant, it lost that relevance within 3-4 years of its publication in 1913, because so many of those at whom it was aimed, husbands and prospective husbands, were lying in the battlefield graves of Northern France. Europe had managed to sleepwalk into the greatest conflict the world had ever seen. It was a Catastrophe in which millions died and which laid the groundwork for future Catastrophes in which millions more would perish.
Since the end of The Great War, gatherings like this have sought to keep alive through an Act of Remembrance the memory of those who perished – a conscious act of will that makes us ponder upon the past. But what are we remembering given that it is nearly 100 years since the Great War began? I want to suggest a few things for us to bear in mind.
Remember that these names are not just names, they were people: sons, brothers, fathers – and in today’s world we can say daughters, sisters, mothers. They were members of families whose lives were irrevocably changed by that death, and members of communities, some of which never recovered from the extent of their loss.
Remember that there were millions of unnamed civilians who perished – so-called ‘collateral damage’ – souls that were caught up in the chaos that war brings, or whose lives were deliberately taken as an instrument of war policy to break national spirit.
Remember that, in the pressures of international relations, our leaders are fallible human beings who need the people to speak out with wisdom so that we do not again sleepwalk our way to catastrophe.
Remember that, as a way of settling disputes, war is one in which everyone loses.
Remember to make places like this memorial, places not to keep alive the embers of hatred, but to treat them as shrines of healing and reconciliation. Last year around this memorial, we had students from Germany and Japan standing with us. We mourned our losses together. Two of our students discovered that a grandfather and great-grandfather had been at the same battle on different sides – they were delighted that the enmity of the past had become friendship in the present, and relieved that both ancestors had survived so that the present friendship was possible.
The prophet Isaiah looked and yearned for a day when the bugle that called armies to battle would be placed in a museum, and when places like Sandhurst would become that museum. A time when, though there would still be international disputes, the folly of war would not be used as a means to settle them.
Today, let us remember that not one of the people named on these memorials died for the joy and glory of war, but in the hope of peace, and that the best thing we can do to honour their memory is to work with every fibre of our being to make peace without resorting to war. Let us pray
Lord God, We commit ourselves to work in penitence and faith for reconciliation between the nations that all people may, together, live in freedom, justice and peace.
We pray for all who in bereavement, disability and pain continue to suffer the consequences of fighting and terror. Surround them with your love, and give us your compassion to help them and learn from them.
We remember with thanksgiving and sorrow those whose lives, in world wars and conflicts past and present, have been given and taken away. By your Holy Spirit may we work together for the healing, not only of body, mind and spirit, but also of relationships between people and nations, so that the power of loving friendship will help us avoid war in the days and years to come.
God of light and love, you desire that all your people should live in your peace. Grant us the humility to seek your forgiveness and the will to practise it
in our dealings with others.
Help us in days to come to seek the good of the world, to work for the increase of peace and justice, and to show tolerance and open-mindedness
towards those whose character and customs differ from ours.
Grant that our remembrance this day may be consecrated for practical service, and the world made better for our children, and our children’s children.
Hear us for the peace of the world, for the wise resolution of conflicts, and the release of captive. Grant that the people of the world may do your will and live in your spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Now God grant to the living grace, to the departed rest, to all people, unity, peace and concord, and to us and all God’s servants, life everlasting.
And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all and remain with you always.