Tomorrow is Remembrance Day - the Sunday nearest Armistice Day (Nov 11th for those not in the know - World War One, the Great War of 1914-18 formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). It's the day when those of us in ministry think hard about what we are trying to do with this yearly occurrence - we don't want to glorify war, but we don't want to skirt over, or around, or under the sacrifice that so many made for us in the two major wars of the last century, and indeed in the ongoing conflicts of our world where so many give up their lives in the name of freedom.
It strikes me that no matter what we feel about the conflicts of recent years that occur in our name - the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq - we are bound to those who those who fight for the ideals that we hold so dear. We may not agree with the means, but the end of 'peace and justice' is surely a shared ideal... I am caught in a dillemma because i hold dear the freedom of speech, the pursuit of peace and the ideal of freedom for all yet (not suprisingly) i am not sure about the present western method of bringing this about. I am not a pacifist, but i hold close the hope for peace, true peace - divine peace, shalom. How we can bring this about in our present troubled world is well beyond me - but i keep praying (and i don't believe that this is a cop-out).
Over and above all this, though, for someone in full time ministry we are faced with this time of Remembrance. I feel this is a vitally important time. We are by our very nature remembering beings, our identity is very much in what we remember. Those who are afflicted with loss of memory are considered somehow depleted - hence our discomfort or fear of the Alzheimer sufferer. or our fear of losing our own memories (see the Movie Memento for a fascinating and thoughtful exploration of the loss of memory).
We are people of remembrance. In the New Testament we are given the celebration which binds us together as Christians, Holy Communion. In it we are told to 'do this in remembrance of me' by Jesus. Remembrance makes us who we are as people of Christ and as human beings.
And at Remembrance-tide we are called to remembrance of those who have given everything for the freedoms we enjoy. Surely the least we can do is bring them to mind and thank God for their willingness to give themselves for what they (and perhaps we) believe(d) in.