A homily for Remembrance Sunday by Lucy Gildersleeves, given at the Act of Remembrance at Charney Bassett, Oxfordshire
War is a human invention, driven by human greed and human fear.
War is a human tragedy – but so much more: war drags in and destroys human lives and livelihoods but also the lives and habitats of creation in warzones – at the moment of conflict and for years afterwards.
I’ve been reading Captain Sir Tom Moore’s autobiography Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day. His title acknowledges his philosophy for life, that “if we make it until tomorrow, then that is a good day in itself. So even if tomorrow is my last day, if all those I loved are waiting for me [in heaven], then that tomorrow will be a good day too.” (p.373)
In his autobiography Captain Sir Tom recalls his comrades in arms in the Burma Campaign – the Forgotten War, and it struck me that there are so many who serve and who die in forgotten wars all around the world, past, present and sadly certainly in the future too.
So today we take time to remember all whose lives were given so that we might have a today and a tomorrow.
We take time to remember, too, all those whose lives go on being torn apart by war – those for whom it seems that tomorrow will never be good.
Captain Sir Tom also wrote about his motivation to give thanks to the health staff and the sufferers who are battling Covid19.
We are reminded this year especially, of the tremendous contribution, often overlooked, of the medical services who give care in combat fields and in rehabilitating those whose lives have been ripped apart by war.
So today, let’s take time to give thanks for the doctors, nurses, ambulance teams and all who put themselves in the danger of warzones to help others.
And as we see this wreath made of horseshoes that we have laid at the Charney and Lyford war memorial today, lets also remember all the animals caught up in war, and the creation that we, as violent humanity, destroy.
Captain Sir Tom has set up a Foundation: its purpose is to “give hope where it is needed most” – for the lonely, the anxious, the suffering: for all who need a little love and compassion.
When he set it up, Captain Tom said “if I have learned one thing from all that has happened, it’s that it is never too late to start something new and make a difference, especially if it brings light and life to people around the world.” (p.371)
As Christians, we know that God himself has led the way in this, in the great work of creation and then again in the great work of re-creation in the death and resurrection of Christ.
We can hold onto that hope – that through the grace of God, we know that our tomorrow in Christ will be a good day.
And we can respond with peace and reconciliation, love and rebuilding, as we are called to walk in the light which the Lord gives us!