At this time of the year, we are invited to stop and remember those from our Armed Forces who have lost their lives and suffered life changing injuries in the defence of freedom. A moment also to reflect on the ultimate questions of life and our journey through it and beyond. For me as a Christian, it focusses my thoughts on the sacrifice of so many and also of a Father who gave his son in order that we might be reconciled to him.

Many times, I’ve stood among the graves and walked through the military cemeteries of France and Belgium. They are the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of soldiers sailors and airmen. British, Commonwealth, American, German and many other nations who died during the epic struggle to rid the world of a very present evil. Each year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, people gather at the Menin Gate at Ypres, a memorial to the missing who fell during the Great War. There’s a plaque that stands beside that imposing monument that says this ‘Now let it be said of each one in who’s honour we gather here today, he is not missing he is here’

Any lurking ideas that war was somehow glamorous ended in the chaos of trench warfare between 1914 and 1918 among the rats, the disease and the appalling suffering. It was called the war to end all wars but in reality, it was little more than a ceasefire before it all burst into flames again in 1939 filling those cemeteries with young men of all nationalities who could and should have been doing something far better with their lives. WWII was not the war to end all wars either. Our Armed Forces continue to step into conflict, preserving peace and freedom throughout the world and today we honour them all. From the poppy fields of Flanders to the beaches of Normandy and from the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of Iraq. We will remember them. The Bible says that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and the only hope for personal and global transformation. We can experience that peace because he lived, died and rose again. He paid the debt for the entirety of human wreckage and through his victory of the grave, secured an eternal home for each one of us beyond the chaos and trauma of today. By receiving Jesus Christ into our lives, we begin to live a brand new life with the certainty we are forgiven and accepted by our Creator God.

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