Scripture for the weekly Eucharist:
The regular Sunday readings draw attention to the need for preparation, and imply judgement. But rather than some distant day of judgement, Jesus tends to lead his followers, then and now, towards judgement on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute, basis. We are to look into the face of those around us and try to see the face of Jesus.
This being so, how do we deal with the conflicts and wars of the past 100 years, when our forebears have been drawn into destruction and damage of human life, offering their lives in the service of others, but in the process called to fight and possibly kill?
On Remembrance Day we do our best to remember and give thanks for the lives of those who have been sacrificed in the interest of those who follow them – often for people of another nation. We look upon such indicators as the display of poppies around the Tower of London: 888,246 of them, each one representing a British or colonial death in World War 1; and then there were those who survived, but whose lives were damaged; and on top of that, the casualties of other nations. We may get lost in the vast loss of life, yet we can be brought down to earth when we encounter individual stories of lives damaged and destroyed that make it very personal. Because war is personal, when it comes down to it.
Our responsibility, in committing to remember those who placed their own lives at risk, is to resist all that leads to further loss of life in armed conflict, and to do our best to ensure that we minimise the probability that subsequent generations will suffer the tragedy and loss of armed conflict. We are reaching a time when few, if any, who fought in the world wars of the twentieth century remain alive. Yet, long after the last of them has gone, we will remember. And we will remember because we do not want to repeat the errors of the past. Our faith calls us to do so: to be prepared for occasions when we may be judged – not in the future, but now.