Rural communities like their community gatherings and ceremonies. I reminded of this again this week as we had our community Remembrance Day Service. We had a couple of hundred people show up at our community hall on one of the coldest Remembrance Days “in the last 29 years” according to the news. People come to show their respects. One of the highlights is the wreath laying. All the children present are invited to take part in carrying up and placing the wreaths which individuals and companies and clubs have sponsored. And then the children are invited to lead in the reciting of In Flanders Fields. It’s a real community event. And I got to play my trumpet along with another trumpet and trombone as we played for a few of the hymns.
I’m also attaching my “Meditation”. It’s hard to know what to say at these services so I thought I’d let you know what I said. Feel free to use any or all of it next year if you need ideas.
“We Want Our Life to Matter”.
We all want our life to matter. We want our life to count in some way.
Maybe we wish we could be a famous inventor or build a more fuel efficient car. Maybe we want to make a difference in our community by volunteering and helping with the normal activities of our town. We want a relationship with someone, maybe a spouse, or a friend, – where they care about us and love us. We want to make a difference in our world somehow.
Young men and women dream of starting their own business or getting a Degree in Science and discovering the cure to cancer. High School grads leave home looking to make their way in life and to make a difference to someone in our world.
When a loved one dies, we grieve. We are sad. If they are older we are sad because they are gone – we miss them. If they are younger we grieve the fact that they were “taken too young – they were taken too soon.”
We understand that our life has an expiration date, but we expect and want that it should be when we get into our 90’s and older. Not when we are young.
Job 14:1-3 describes the shortness of human life.
“How frail is humanity!
How short is life, how full of trouble!
We blossom like a flower and then wither.
Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.
Most flowers have very short lives. The plant itself may last a little longer than the blossom, or might bloom again each year, yet the flower itself doesn’t often last very long. The Bible reminds us that our life is short.
When we come to Remembrance Day and we remember those who served and who died fighting for their country, we are reminded again of the frailty of life and how quickly it can end. And we should remember how young many of those were who gave their lives for our freedom.
Many, if not most of those who served and died in the early years would have been young. They wouldn’t have had a chance to get a University degree or start their own business. Most of those who served were single. They may have left girlfriends behind but most wouldn’t even have had a chance to start a family to pass their name onto.
Today, more and more soldiers who serve and lose their lives are family men, a little older, with children at home. So not only is that soldier gone – that family’s husband and father or wife and mother are gone.
In some ways, we might say that those who fought in the World Wars weren’t even old enough to make a difference in the world. Yet they did.
We tend to measure the success of one’s life based on how much money they made or how famous they were or if there are songs written about them. We might think the average 19 or 20 year old is just starting out on life and hasn’t really made a difference yet – but when we remember those who have died in the battlefield, we remind ourselves that it didn’t matter how young or how old they were – these men and women made a difference.
In John 15:13 Jesus says…
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Those who have served and fought for Canada over the years have made a huge difference by giving their lives – for their families, their friends, and their country.
Jesus is talking about sacrificial love – and he knew what he was talking about as shortly after making these comments, Jesus was crucified on a cross.
He wasn’t killed for anything he had done wrong but because he was willing to pay the penalty – the death penalty – for the sin of all mankind. Those who died for their country – even in the last few weeks – stood in between the enemy and their country. They loved their country enough to give their lives.
It was a sacrifice – no doubt!
Many gave up the chance to get married or to have a family. Instead, they did what they could to stand in the way between the enemy and their loved ones back home.
Jesus Christ gave himself on the cross, standing between mankind and sin and the penalty of death that came with sin.
Jesus was willing to die so that we might enjoy life – eternal life. He was willing to die so that we could live. Those who have given their lives on the battlefield out of sacrificial love have done so so that we who are left behind can enjoy our life. They were willing to die so that we could live.
And isn’t it fitting that many of these graves of soldiers are marked with crosses. This reminds us that just as Jesus died on the cross for our life, these soldiers gave their lives for our life.
So today is a day to remember
- -to remember young lives lost
- -to remember sacrificial love
- -and to remember that our continued freedom comes at the cost of other’s lives.
Today, we remember.