November 2014

Lest We Forget

[This month’s editorial has been taken from the ‘Parish Pump’]


One of the most amazing sights in London this year has been the art installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London. The dry moat has been filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each representing a British or Colonial soldier killed in the First World War and commemorated in this centenary year.

‘In Flanders fields, the poppies grow between the crosses, row on row, that mark our places; and in the sky the larks, still bravely singing, fly scarce heard amongst the guns below.’

This is the first stanza of John McCrae’s poem, first published in Punch magazine in 1915. Within months, it came to symbolise the sacrifices of all who were fighting in the First World War. Today, the poppy remains a tangible symbol of all those who have sacrificed their lives in war. But why do we remember? ‘They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’ (Micah 4:3). Writing about 700 years before Christ, Micah’s words have to be seen against a background of violence with the fall of Samaria and the instability created by the aggression of Assyria. However, he prophesied a future of hope, a world where nations come together in peace instead of war. His vision saw a time when the arms of war would be turned into farming tools and people would live in peaceful community.


Our understanding of peace is more than the avoidance of war or the absence of conflict. It’s about building relationships between people, communities and nations, which positively creates a love and care for others founded on justice for all. As we remember the sacrifice of those who died in the First World War, our response must be to look practically at how we can build relationships of peace and justice in our world, starting with our own families, colleagues and neighbourhoods. As Micah says, ‘we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.’ (4:5). We always need God’s presence and power to change us into the people who have a passion for peace and justice, and compassion for everyone.


‘They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.’