Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lest we forget

This morning I presided at the Eucharist in a packed church. People who don't even come at Christmas chose to be with us this morning as we gathered, first at the War Memorial just across the road from the church and then brought our feelings of grief, of anger, of frustration and offered them to God for redemption and transformation.

I struggled, as I always do on Remembrance Sunday.
Of course I am hugely grateful to those who "for my tomorrow gave their today" and, because my father lived through both world wars and served in one of them, I have a very real sense of the immediacy of those conflicts. They are absolutely not long ago and far away. Boys who vied with Daddy for poll position in maths class, who shared his fascination with the sea and ships, who used to walk their dogs with him....ordinary boys with hopes, fears and dreams went to war and they never came home.
That is real and painful....something we cannot afford to forget.

But we need to remember reality, not to subscribe to a collective delusion of glorious heroism, to "the old lie, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori".
My father taught me that - and surely he had earned the right, along with his DSC "for courage", to challenge our annual act of commemoration.
He never forgot. He never made light of the cost of our freedom....but I know he would have been disturbed and even angry that we stood at the War Memorial today and sang a single verse of "I vow to thee, my country..."

War hurts. Always. There are no winners, no matter what the political outcome.

Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth,
Lead us from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love,
from war to peace,
Let peace fill our beings,
our world and our universe.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer


Songbird said...

Thank you.

Amy said...

Not sure if you'll even read this comment now as it's so far back on the posts... anyway, this is a poem I happened to notice a couple of weeks ago:

Luck - Dennis McHarrie

I suppose they'll say his last thoughts were of simple things,
Of April back at home, and the late sun on his wings;
Or that he murmured someone else's name
As earth reclaimed him sheathed in flame.
Oh God! Let's have no more of empty words,
Lip service ornamenting death!
The worms don't spare the hero;
Nor can children feed upon resounding praises of his deed.
'He died who loved to live,' they'll say,
'Unselfishly so we might have today!'
Like hell! He fought because he had to fight;
He died that's all. It was his unlucky night.

A much more brutally honest and realistic view of war, I think.

Kathryn said...

Indeed, Amy. I think it's as well that I didn't read that before I preached last Sunday. I was struggling enough with complex feelings as it was...That was painful but compelling reading.