Why do we commemorate Remembrance Day?
Many churches will mark Remembrance Day during their Sunday services, but why is it so important to keep it at the forefront of our minds at this time of year?
As well as marking Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day,in our Sunday services, most people across the UK will hold a two-minute silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month; the time World War One ended back in 1918. You’ll also see people wearing poppies and memorials that are covered in red at this time of year. But why do people still make such a big deal about Remembrance Day more than 100 years after the event, and why, as Christians should we be leading the charge?
First of all, because it is a big deal! According to the BBC, six million British troops were mobilised during World War I and more than 700,000 were killed. It’s also worth remembering that many of those who survived would have had physical injuries or mental health issues as a result of their service, and thousands of civilians would also have endured great loss and hardship. Added to this, there have been countless other conflicts before and since then in which men and women have laid down their lives for their country, for example during World War Two, the Falklands War, the Gulf War, and during more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a huge sacrifice to make, and one we should never forget.
John 15:13 says: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Secondly, British soldiers continue to face danger on a daily basis across the globe. Those who survive can never unsee what they have seen. The impact can only really be understood by those who have been to a warzone and faced their own mortality, the mortality of their friends, and the mortality of the unknown men, women and children on the other side of the conflict. It’s also worth remembering the price the soldiers’ family members pay for their service. The families of British troops suffer their absence if they survive and their loss if they don’t. Again, that is a huge price to pay for the protection of our country.
Romans 12:15 says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
Thirdly, it’s important for Christians to lead the way in moments like this. The words surrounding this annual commemoration are deliberately not faith-related so that those of all faiths and none can feel included, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring God into the situation. Many churches hold special services to remember the dead, the injured and those who have made huge sacrifices during times of conflict. This is a good opportunity to invite those who wouldn’t normally attend church to be part of something that might bring them comfort.
Even during the two-minute silence at work or on the high street we can pray for those who are suffering and ask him to bring peace where there is currently war. We can pray for those who have lost family members and been forced out of their lands. We can reach out to people in our communities who have been affected by war. We can visit residential homes to pay our respects to veterans. We can wear a poppy to show that we remember, and more importantly that we care. And ultimately, we can be a light to those around us in living life to the full because our freedom has been bought at a price… both on the part of brave soldiers past and present, and by our saviour, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to give us life for all eternity.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”