We have just been silent for two minutes' during which television film showed the worst of war with scenes of battle, the blitz and so many graves, focusing on a plain wooden cross to an unknown soldier. The sacrifice and bitterness of loss brings such sadness. And grief will be felt by many today. I remember my first Remembrance Sunday in Blackburn when many men turned up in uniform and after the silence there was weeping among them. As a young minister I came of age as I saw raw grief.
Today is bitter-sweet because the memories are also focused on celebration. Our neighbour is 79 today and he came round to thank us for his birthday card. 'I was only four but I remember this day so clearly. Our whole street went mad. They scrubbed kitchen tables and brought them out into the street with those wooden chairs we used to have. And hung garlands, with so much noise and merriment. All the women in their pinafores and headscarves making a feast for us. Oh, how I remember'. Then he went quiet. 'My father was in the RAF. He came home but within 3 months he had left my mum and me'.
Today we should be realists about the costs of conflict and suffering and the world we live in. Living in a fallen world where the Bible speaks of spiritual warfare, of the need to be strong and put on God's complete armour, we are told to keep alert. 'We are up against...spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil...Take your stand then with truth..righteousness, peace...salvation....the Word of God....faith....Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent (From Eph 6. Phillips).