Of all the acts of worship that we hold in church, Remembrance Sunday is always the one that still surprises me. With this year being the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and the majority of war veterans deceased, it always surprises me the number of people who still attend these services.
Remembrance Sunday has always been important to me. As an amateur historian, I truly believe that we need to learn from the past or we are in danger of repeating it; remembering the war and all those who gave their lives is an important way of ensuring that we don’t forget the cost.
When I visit the National Arboretum I am always humbled by the sheer number of names on the memorials, the sheer number of people who died in the war. It is also sobering to know that all the names are not there – there are many more besides. It was similar to the impression I got from visiting Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial in Israel. Hearing the names read out in the darkened room and knowing that there were thousands of names is humbling.
It is important that we remember the horrors and the sacrifices of the world wars, and of wars still going on today. Maybe then the world won’t repeat the mistakes of the past; instead perhaps we will learn from it. There are many hymns often sung at remembrance services, though the words from a more recent hymn are especially poignant: By a monument of marble by Marjorie Dobson (Singing the Faith 131) speaks of remembering, of silence and poppies. It ends with the beautiful words of a prayer:
“God, we need your help and guidance
in our constant search for peace.
Move us on to new solutions
as we pray that wars may cease.”
God of peace,
Help us to remember those who gave their lives in war,
And all those who suffered at the hands of others during the war.
We remember all those who are still caught up in wars.
We pray for peace, a real peace,
A peace that passes all understanding,
That light and hope may replace darkness and fear.
God of peace, we ask for peace on earth.
You can download this Prayer for the Week here.
Prayers for November by Revd Claire Rawlinson
Image: war memorial – photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash