Every November, at 11 o clock on the 11th of November this country, joined by countries around the Commonwealth and Europe falls silent to remember those who have died in war from World War 1 right up to the present day. This year in particular, the nation has remembered specifically the Battle of Passchendaele. I don’t know if you watched the coverage of the commemorations or if you have even visited the battlefields themselves, but I was struck afresh at the numbers.
550,000 Allied and German Troops killed at Passchendaele. Many more injured.
550,000. The number of dead would fill up the seats in Old Trafford 7.2 times.
Each number represents someone who had a family and had a whole future ahead of them. They died for the sake of freedom, liberty and justice. When we stop at 11am, we stop not just to remember the violence and the horrific sacrifices made, but we stop to reflect on the ongoing fight for freedom, justice and peace and to commit ourselves afresh to that cause.
2017 also marks 100 years since the creation of the first all-female unit in the British Army, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Within one of the darkest hours of the world, when many were forced to experience sacrifice, there a recognition that everyone, no matter who they were, had a part to play. That is as important today as ever.
We all have a part to play in building a world marked with the values of peace, justice and freedom. A world based on hope. As we stop, I encourage you to ask the question; What is my role in building this world of peace and hope? And as you do, remember the words of Jesus: ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. (John 15:12)
Written by Revd Calum Piper, Interim Minister
Originally published in November 2017 in the Monthly Bowdon Church News.