Remembrance Sunday came around again. It is, I suppose, proof of how old I am that it seems to come around far more quickly than it used to. Another sign of old age is that, for the first time ever, the Queen delegated the laying of her wreath to Prince Charles because of her advancing years. I don’t know if you saw it but there was a bit of a social media storm around this decision with some people saying that – no matter how old the monarch – to give this job up was to disrespect the war dead. Yep, because that’s the kind of country people fought and died for – the kind of country that forces a ninety odd year old woman, with a lifetime of public service, to stand in the November cold for half the morning before making her walk backwards down some steep stone steps after laying a heavy wreath. Good Grief.
I also read that one of the reasons she had given it up this year was because Prince Phillip had retired and she preferred to stay with him on a day that is very emotional for both of them. This is incredibly touching I think. I am not much of a monarchist but I am a very big Queen Elizabeth the Second – ist.
On a less edifying note, my son, who works part time in a bar had to deal with some ex-sailors who came in today. Plymouth is a big military city and there is a huge event on the Hoe by the War Memorial. The group came in straight after the event, obviously drunk and swearing like – well like sailors. As he works in a family pub where children are eating Sunday lunch etc. he politely asked them to stop to which one of them replied “Who do you think you are – telling me what to do? I’m a veteran and I’ve just been to the memorial service.” Now I am all for gratitude but does anyone else think it a little weird that a a record of military service means it is ok to drop the F bomb in front of grandmothers and babies? I suppose that remembrance means different things to different people.
Whatever remembrance is – it certainly isn’t a feeling that now we are safe; despite such an all consuming sacrifice. Yesterday 60, 000 people marched on Warsaw chanting “Europe will be white” and “Clean Blood”. Last week, a militant atheist walked into a Baptist church in Texas and gunned down the Christians who had been supporting the wife and child he had been abusing. When the babies began to cry, he targeted them specifically. The President of the United Stares is upset because the leader of a rogue nuclear power called him old and felt it was ok to retaliate with a “fat” jibe. And still no-one seems to have done anything about a Shelter report which warned that over a million households could be homeless by 2020 because of high rents and universal credit problems. (Possibly too busy abusing young interns – desperate to make their way in the world and too frightened to say “no”) It can become difficult to look at what people sacrificed and whether we can match up to any of it.
In a couple of weeks Advent will be starting and, all over the country, little people in Sunday Schools will be holding up laminated cards and reading out in their best loud voices
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)
Jesus was very quick to say that he didn’t bring the kind of peace the world brings which is just as well really because that seems to be a bit of a rubbish peace. But he does give some ideas of a different kind of peace. Maybe it is the peace that faith brings in the most difficult of circumstances. Maybe it is the peace that comes from following a man who turned human values upside down wherever he went. Maybe it comes from doing the right thing and swimming against the tide even though, as he warned us, it would get us into trouble. Maybe it comes from giving a gentle answer when you are unjustly accused because you know that, in the end, man’s opinion of you is not that important after all. The list is endless. We maybe have something to have a go at there; a way to go out and make peace happen.