“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amidst the guns below” [poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae]
On Saturday I placed the cross outside the church at Condorrat and put on it 30 poppies, one for each of the names on the War Memorial in the church. Many churches have set up their own memorials in very different ways and if you are interested I suggest that you look at the Church of Scotland website where there are some stunning photos of poppies and Remembrance Gardens.
It is so sad that this year we could not hold our usual service but that is the case for the whole nation. The point is that the intention is just as always, Remembrance and Gratitude for those who died for our freedom and the way of life we now have.
I felt that it was most appropriate that we used the cross a symbol of sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus for us all. On that were the red poppies symbols of the sacrifice of those named who gave their all for their nation and for freedom. Yet there was also the sacrifice of their families and friends, of the communities from where they came.
I remember the after-math of the 2nd world war, I was not a war baby just being born in 1949 but I remember rationing and I still have my identity card from that time. It was a time of sacrifice and the memory of those who died or wounded was as sharp and as painful as anything on earth. Those who went through the worst of times, the men at the front line or those who were prisoners of war – said very little it was as if they wanted to blot out what they had seen. For many people did not want to hear, they wanted to put it all behind them, they wanted to look forward to the peace.
That generation was remarkable, they got up and got going, they rebuilt the country, started youth clubs and events for young people. Found a way to survive through the fifties and into the bright new tomorrow everyone thought that the sixties brought, and with that Hope. A Hope for Peace that would be ever lasting.
Between the sacrifice of so many who gave their lives in defending our freedom and in those who survived and built this nation up. We owe so much to all those mentioned in the War Memorial but we also owe so much to those who returned. We have taken that freedom for granted and did not realise just how wonderful it was until it was taken away from us by the Pandemic.
Jesus talked of Love for one another but it is not so easy to do that. Especially at this time when the stories of war emergeand the awfulness and full horror becomes clear to us. Some scars run very deep and that flare of anger or a great sense of injustice can be overwhelming. Yet that is not the way to Peace, the only way is to love one another as Jesus commanded His Followers to do. To love the person who hates you and to find it in your heart to forgive. Some may be thinking that is all very well but that is the hardest thing to do, to forgive the most awful of wrongs. Yes it takes time to put the past behind and move forward and no-one can do this alone. We need divine help in this because only God has that unlimited unconditional love which heals all wounds and gives balm to the soul. So let us place our faith and our trust in God and look to the future with confidence that He will lead us and guide us in the right path, the path of Peace, which is the bright light in the darkness.
LET US PRAY
ALMIGHTY AND MOST POWERFUL GOD
On this day we pray for peace in the world. For those living in disunity to be united, for those unable or unwilling to forgive to take time and to listen to the advocates of peace.
On this day we pray for those affected by the conflicts of the world, families, friends, neighbourhoods bereft due to the loss of dear ones.
On this day we also give thanks for the sacrifice for so many who defended this country in different wars throughout the years. We give thanks for the armed forces, Army, Navy and Air Force who continue to protect and support the nation.
On this day we pray earnestly for Peace with all our heart. Peace in our own hearts, peace in our nation, peace all over the world. We ask for Your healing power to come along all people in conflict.
We pray for the Peacemakers that a light may shine in the darkness of Chaos and that Your will may be known and that people can live in harmony.
We ask in Jesus name.
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