Silence - may seem to be the only response to what we come to remember and acknowledge at Remembrance. It may be out of respect for lives given. It might also be because war and all that it is ‘messes with our heads’ in such a way that we do not know what to think or say. We struggle to know how to express our feelings.
Those who lost loved ones struggled the most and on tombstones expressed themselves in 66 characters (less that a Twitter message) and we glimpse love, sorrow, grief, humour, pride and despair and faith:
We are numbed by the horror and the scale of untimely deaths - We want to rage against the futility of it and the situation and decisions that brought it about.
We puzzle at why lives need be given for the sake of a few feet of mud-churned countryside, while needing to uphold the value of a clear right over a shadowy wrong.
We are led to question motives when politicians see war as the only solution to a set of complex international relationships.
We wonder, did young men march to defend or to conquer?
We are awed by the scale of suffering, death, loss, expense while also being moved somewhere deep down by individual stories of hardship, heroism, sacrifice.
What can be said? Nothing perhaps? And we keep silence.
Yet we seek to, and we need to unravel this mess for the sake of the future. The ‘war to end all wars’ was not, but for the sake of humanity we need a better way.
We need far more than impressive displays of poppies.
We need more than prayer (US mother who lost son in recent shooting cried ‘Don’t let anyone offer me any more prayers! I want gun control.’ )
We need more like the education of the young in the mistakes, cost and sacrifice of past generations, to shape future generations.
And we do have Jesus - not as personal Lord who can make us feel better, but as Saviour of the world who calls us to action - sharing in his work of redemption.
The silence is best used to listen - to discover that God is with us within all in the mess of war and will show us his way beyond it.
Matthew 5. 1-12
1Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them.
3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.