‘Pause to Remember’
This weekend we will be commemorating the centenary of the end of WWI. Pausing for two minutes at 11am on Sunday to remember with gratitude the sacrifice made by so many in war. In Abercromby Square, Liverpool, there is a memorial to Noel Chavasse, a soldier in WWI and one of only three people to be awarded a Victoria Cross twice.
In 1916, as a surgeon-Captain Chavasse rescued wounded men from no-man’s land under heavy fire, sometimes just 25 yards from enemy lines. He saved the lives of more than 20 men and was honoured with his first Victoria Cross. He was awarded the second posthumously after he continued to rescue and treat men during conflict at Wieltje, Belgium, though mortally wounded himself. Captain Chavasse died on 4 August 1917, at the age of 32, and is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery in Belgium. The inscription on his memorial contains the words from John 15:13, “Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends.”
In the mud and gore of trench warfare many soldiers longed to be home and were comforted by knowing God’s love for them. Each solider in WWI received a pocket sized John’s Gospel, some find faith in reading John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
These words from John’s Gospel were true 100 years ago and remain true for us today. The hope that WWI soldiers found in the promise of Jesus who would bring peace and reconciliation can also be our hope for we read in Hebrews 13:8, “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
On Sunday, 4 August 1918, the fourth anniversary of the declaration of war, King George V and Queen Mary joined members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords for a special service at the Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster. They asked that 4 August 1918 be observed as a National Day of prayer, 100 days later the war ended. As we approach Sunday may we be committed to pray for peace. Being able to let go of the things that prevent us from finding peace in our own lives is a good place to start. Working through difficult issues of conflict within our family, being willing to forgive and let go of hurts caused by friends, neighbours, and work colleagues can help us have more peace in our everyday lives.
And so this special remembrance weekend as we pause to remember let’s take time to reflect on the lyrics from the 1955 Jackson-Miller song ‘Let there be peace’
“Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me”