'Remembrance Day'

Wednesday Reflection

11th November 2020

'Lights Out'

Today, across the world,
it is Remembrance Day,
a day to recall the ending of World War One
and to honour the fallen in all wars.

At 11am each year,
we will join with many countries
around the world
in two minutes silence
to remember all who have been killed,
wounded or affected by war.

It is coincidental,
but appropriate,
that this is also the feast day of
St Martin of Tours,
patron saint of soldiers,
conscientious objectors and chaplains.

Martin became a Christian
while serving in the Roman guard
in the 3rd century.
In an act of compassion,
Martin shared his military cloak
with a beggar
on the side of the road.
Later he had a dream
where the beggar was
revealed as Jesus who said,

'Whatever you did
 for one of the least of these
 brothers and sisters of mine,
 you did for me.'

Matthew 25:40-45.

Martin exchanged his military service
for a life of service to the poor.

War is never good,
but it is sometimes necessary
to fight against those who
would try to dominate.
The United Kingdom
has been involved in 44 recognized wars
and conflicts.

At Remembrance services
all around the globe,
the words of the Kohima Epitaph -
the epitaph carved on the Memorial
of the 2nd British Division
in the cemetery of Kohima
in north-east India - are read:

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

it is based on something much older

It was Simonides, who wrote
the famous lines about
the Spartan action
under King Leonidas,
who held the pass of Thermopylae
against the Persians in 480 BC.
One translation of
Simonides' epitaph reads as follows:

Tell it in Sparta,
thou that passes by Here,
faithful to her charge,
her soldiers lie.

In 1914, Edward Grey,
Britain's then Foreign Secretary,
uttered these words
on the eve of Britain officially
entering the First World War:

  "The lamps are going out
   all over Europe,
   we shall not see them lit again
   in our lifetime."

These moments in human history
and the experiences and memories,
that we each personally have,
show us that the lamps
do not go out,
that the hope of peace
and justice
in the actions of our service men
and women keep the lamps lit.

This is the promise of God
that although some may try,
we cannot extinguish what is
good in humanity and God's creation.
In the Gospel of St John,
we read

"the light shines
 in the darkness
 and the darkness
 cannot overcome it".

.... (1:5)

So, as we remember
the lights going out over Europe
at the start of the First World War
and the sacrifice
of all those affected
in the conflicts since,
let us be inspired
in the knowledge and faith
that they will always be relit
by those prepared
to give themselves for others.