They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old;
age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.
Without doubt the last eight months have been strange and challenging times. People have felt anxious, even afraid, worried about their powerlessness in the present and uncertain of what the future holds. I have even heard it compared with wartime but saying that at least then the enemy was visible, then there was a strong sense of community, then churches stayed open come what may. Well it may be true that we had to shut our churches for a time – and may have to do so again – and yes, the enemy now is invisible and many who live alone feel isolated, but it is not necessary to have personally lived through wartime to know that our present difficulties bear about as much comparison with what people endured then as putting on our flimsy fabric face masks does with wearing the gas masks of old.
Still, there are some things we share in common. In times of national, indeed global, crisis our priorities change. We discover what matters most to us and always it is the love we have for our family and friends, for our homes and for that which make us feel safe, our faith and the trust we put in God and, above all, his steadfast love for us. We need to hold on to those things to strengthen us. We need to be thankful for all we have been given, each morning to give praise for the new day and each evening to give thanks for its blessings.
The month of November is marked for remembering. The 8th November is Remembrance Sunday when we will pay tribute to the sacrifices that others made for us. It is also a time to remember the ultimate sacrifice that was made for every one of us, that of Jesus on the cross that by his living and his dying and his resurrection we could come to God. In the words of John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (NIV)
May the knowledge of his sacrificial love uphold you today and every day to come.
With every blessing.
The following poem was written in 2019 by Joshua Dyer (then 14), a talented young man. To me it seems to encapsulate both the human sacrifice of war and the promise of salvation.
One Thousand Men Are Walking
One thousand men are walking, walking side by side
Singing songs from home, the spirit as their guide.
They walk toward the light milord, they walk towards the sun,
they smoke and laugh and smile together, no foes to outrun.
These men live on forever in the hearts of those they saved,
a nation truly grateful for the path of peace they paved.
They march as friends and comrades but they do not march for war
step closer to salvation, a tranquil steady corps.
The meadows lit with golden beams, a beacon for the brave,
the emerald grass untrampled – a reward for what they gave.
They dream of those they left behind and know they dream of them
forever in those poppy fields there walks one thousand men.