Like so many things over the last seven months, Remembrance Sunday will be different this year. As we make a national effort to bring the Covid virus under control, the recent lockdown means that we cannot hold Remembrance services in our churches and even outdoor events and ceremonies around our war memorials and cenotaphs will be severely restricted.
It would be easy to be despondent about yet another set back in our community life but it seems to me that it also gives us a unique opportunity to reflect upon a truly precious gift that we have and take so often for granted – our liberty.
Let’s face it our own personal freedom has been curtailed, understandably, with lockdown and restrictions recently and it would be good to think that when we do eventually get it back we will be grateful for it and appreciate it even more.
So it should also be with Remembrance Sunday. It is a time to remember with huge gratitude those who during World War and conflict right up to the present day have paid the ultimate price, lost their lives or sustained life- changing injuries , so that we can be free.
Remembrance Sunday this year also marks the centenary of the interment of the The Unknown Soldier in the nave of Westminster Abbey. Exhumed from one of the battlefields of the First World War the tomb of this unknown soldier represented all those who had fallen in that conflict and continues to do so for those who have fallen since. This soldier has the name of those who we may know or know of who have died in war and his or her face is the face of loved ones lost in conflict.
For Christians this also has a deep resonance and meaning as we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross so that we could have life. That too is a reason for great sadness and deep gratitude.
In the words of a poem by Sir John Stanhope Arkwright put to music by Gustav Holst in the Hymn “O Valiant Hearts”,
O risen Lord, O Shepherd of our dead,
Whose cross has bought them and Whose staff has led,
In glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land
Commits her children to Thy gracious hand.
Let us pray.
Ever-living God. We remember those whom you have gathered from the storm of war into the peace of your presence: may that same peace calm our fears, bring justice to all peoples and establish harmony among the nations, through Jesus Christ out Lord. Amen