May the memory of wars strengthen our efforts for peace;
May the memory of those who died inspire our service to the living;
May the memory of past destruction move us to build for the future;
O God of peace, O companion of our souls,
O builder of Love and Justice in the world,
Hear our prayer.
On November 11 2018, the Centenary of the Armistice that ended World War 1 will be remembered.
Anglican Peacemakers across the UK are looking to the Centenary of the Armistice as a time in which we view ‘remembering’ as one stage in a continually journey towards peace. As a time in which we acknowledge that the best way to honour those who have died in war, is to work tirelessly towards the end of the need for war.
So how should we remember? What will your Church or community be doing?
Here are some thoughts by Rt Revd David Walker, Bishop of Manchester;
The first task of those committed to the way of peace is, I would argue, precisely to ensure that war continues to be remembered and that it continues to be remembered primarily for its tragic consequences at the level of the individual and family.
In 2016 I had the privilege of taking part in the national commemoration of the Battle of the Somme. The ceremony was held at Manchester Cathedral, in recognition of the fact that huge numbers of men from this region lost their lives on that first most bloody day of that most bloody of all World War One battles. Passages were read from letters written the night before and during the battle, including one from a German soldier. These were the last recorded words of very ordinary men whose lives would be obliterated just a few hours later.
Later that year, there was a service to dedicate six pavement plaques in honour of men who had won the VC during that same war. With the Order of Service, we were given short biographies of those whose deeds were being recalled. These included, not just accounts of their bravery in battle, but also what became of them afterwards. Often soldiers’ lives after the War were very ordinary, whilst others suffered terribly with what we would now recognize as PTSD.
In neither of these services did I detect any desire to glorify war or to portray it as celebration of victory. In each case the human dimension, in all its complexity, and the human cost, was vividly central. There is a shared mourning and lamentation amongst all who stop to reflect on war and its impact on humanity
It is not easy to know how best to remember the horrors of war and the relief that must have been felt as it ended, many people struggle to know how we as Christians should reflect on such anniversaries. In recognition of this, at APF we have produced a resource to help Church leaders and communities looking to remember with a focus on peace.
Here you will find materials for public acts of remembrance and for worship and some examples of reconciliation and peacemaking post 1914.
The Church of England has also produced materials that include a public act of commitment to work for peace, a narrative called ‘Steps towards Reconciliation’ and peace prayers.
In the lead up to the Centenary of the Armistice we would love to hear how you and your community will Remember? Do you have any personal prayers or reflections on peace? Please either comment on this post or email; Tilly@anglicanpeacemaker.org.uk . We will collect all these thoughts as part of a reflection for Armistice weekend?
Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide a space for people associated with APF to express their own personal views and opinions in order to promote discussion of issues relating to peacemaking and pacifism It is not necessarily a place where the official views of APF are expressed.