Originally known as Armistice Day, Remembrance Sunday is happening this coming Sunday. Many of us just know this event as ‘Poppy Sunday’ – the day our nation wears a Red Poppy on their lapels.
What is Remembrance Sunday?
When two opposing sides agree to cease hostilities we call it an ‘armistice’, and this is exactly what happened on 11th November 1918, at precisely 11am. At this moment the armistice came into effect and the brutality of the First World War ceased on the Western Front. It did take a further six months of negotiation and talks at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace Treaty of Versailles, but essentially peace had been established on 11/11 at 11am. Since 1918 we have remembered this armistice each year with a two-minute silence at 11am on Remembrance Sunday, close to 11th November, and by wearing a red poppy, the first flower to grow again across the scarred battle fields of Northern France.
Why is remembering important?
Without care we can all be guilty of forgetting things too soon. Some things should be left behind and are better buried and forgotten, but not everything falls into this category. Some things should be held closer – should be remembered and pondered, even if the act of doing so is challenging. The bible is full of moments when God and his people instruct the act of remembering.
‘take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God...’
‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me…’
As we stand together across the nation, for two minutes of silence and reflection, we choose to corporately reflect on a number of things:
- The horror of war
- The courage of many
- The privilege of liberty and democracy
- The grace of God
- The act of corporately seeking God as a nation
From whichever angle you observe it, war is horrible. Occasionally necessary, but always painful and destructive.
As we look back across history and the two World Wars, we see literally millions of people who gave their lives for their nation and beliefs. Such courage and sacrifice should never be forgotten.
Without care it is easy to assume that our nation’s current state of free, stable democracy is a right that has always been assured - this is not the case. Our nation enjoys its present privileges because so many were willing to oppose the despotic rise of fascism in Europe.
It would be naïve to forget the place of faith and prayer in Britain’s unlikely victory of both the World Wars. When Britain looked close to defeat, King George called our nation to a National Day of Prayer, on 26 May 1940 – millions of people queued for hours for the chance to pray for God’s intervention in our national crisis. See more here.
Trials tend to often drive us back to God as well as to community; ultimately when the pressure’s on we need support! Let’s never underestimate what can be achieved when a nation chooses to stand together and seek God. Let’s work together for that day to be seen again in the UK – a nation standing shoulder-to-shoulder asking for God to break in and deliver us from evil!
So, this year, wear your poppy with pride and with understanding, praying with both gratitude for the past and expectation for the future.