Sunday, November 10, 2013

Remembrance Day

Contemporary Reading:      "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream"

Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again

And when the papers all were signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands end bowed their heeds
And grateful prayers were prayed
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

"The Dream of Peace"

What They Did

Some of the most amazing Remembrance Day poetry
comes from Canadians. We seem to have an inherit understanding
of war and peace.

William Bedford is a poet who was born in Ireland but spent most of his life here in Canada.

Of Battles Past, Battles Now and Battles Yet to Come

Vimy Ridge.
The Battle of Britain.
The Battle of the Atlantic.
Hong Kong.
Juno Beach.
The Falaise Gap.
The Liberation of Holland.
Kap Yung.

These are just some of the battles long ago
that are etched in Canada's collection memory bank.

Battles lost and battles won,
in blinding snows and blazing sun.

Sadly, we now add new names to our memory bank.

The Gulf.

Sadder still, there will, inevitably, be future battles
and more names to remember
on each chilly November morn.
But remember them we shall.
Remember them we must.

In World War 1,
595,000 Canadians enlisted.
60,000 died and 155,000 were wounded.
Worldwide, 8 million soldiers died.
In World War 2,
1.1 million Canadians enlisted
with 42,000 dead
and 54,000 wounded.
Worldwide 25 million military personnel
and 30 million civilians died.

Canadians have given their lives in service in Korea and in peacekeeping duties around the world.
And in our recent memory, 158 Canadians have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2002.

These aren't just statistics.
These are real people - people like you and me - who faced horror, made grave sacrifices, and, whether killed or wounded or not, each and every one of their lives was dramatically changed forever.

When Jesus said,
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God," these are the people he was talking about.

Jesus also said, 
"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Why They Did It

It's not simply enough though, to call these people heroes, which they are.

It is important to remember why they did it.
And when we strip aside all the politics of war that come from governments and public discourse,
we find men and women who faithfully put themselves in harm's way.
Men and women who believed and continue to believe that the world could one day be filled with peace.
Men and women who work harder than we can imagine to get us one step closer to that vision.

Their vision is not unlike Jesus' vision. When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God and how we are to build it, he was talking about this peaceful, just world that they imagine.

In Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 14, 
he described it this way:

"The kingdom of God is not about what we consume.
The kingdom of God is about
righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Anyone who serves Christ in this way
is pleasing to God
and approved by humanity.
Let us, therefore, make every effort
to do what leads to peace and enlightenment."

What We Are Remembering

So, on Remembrance Day, 
we are remembering the people who were courageous on our behalf.
But we are also remembering their dream...
the dream of peace.

It's the dream of people dancing in the streets and guns and swords and uniforms being scattered on the ground that is so wonderfully described in the song Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream, that I read to you earlier.

How We Can Dream

And their dream is our dream.

We don't remember so that we can glorify war.
We don't remember so that we can hold on to Hollywood-scale images of violence.
We don't remember so that can dwell on horrific situations.
No, we remember so that we can continue the work of peace that they have begun.

For we too are to be peacemakers.
As Jesus was about to die,
he said that it was his peace that he was leaving with us.
Peace is now ours to protect and ensure.
We might not all be called to join the Armed Forces,
but we can bring peace in our own ways,
in our own corner of the world.


Tomorrow I want you to go the the Cenotaph.
I want you to make a conscious effort to take two minutes of silence at 11 am.
And, when you do,
don't fill your heads with images of soldiers storming foreign shores
or tanks rolling through Middle Eastern streets
or bombs exploding in muddy trenches.

Instead, I want you to take that time to dream,
to imagine peace.
Imagine what that might look like. 
Then you will truly be remembering.

I leave you with an image of the dream of peace. 
It's a poem called "My Living Dream" and it was written by Richard Doiron from Moncton, New Brunswick.

A world infused with tender loving care,
this is the dream that occupies my days,
the thought I think that translates into prayer,
that peace be known in endless sorts of ways.

I will not rest while yet I have this dream,
for what's a dream but that it's realized?
(The middle road and not the far extreme,
this is the sign that says I'm civilized!)

Diversity's what sets the fields aflame,
a lesson, there, for all the world to see,
the universe that calls us each by name,
that we'd behold the way it ought to be!

I'd live my dream - a brotherhood so broad!-:
which one of these is not a child of God?

What does your dream of peace look like? 
Remember them we shall.

Remember them we must.

No comments: