The Lord says, ‘No one has greater love than this,to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ (John 15:13)
Remembrance Sunday brings us to consider these words of Jesus in their stark reality – the highest degree of love a person can show for someone else is to lay down his or her life so that the other might live. Jesus showed us what he meant when he himself laid down his life on the Cross so that we might have true life and true freedom. In turn our fallen service men and women have also shown us what these words mean when they sacrificed their lives to bullets, shrapnel, and explosions, so that we might live lives marked by freedom and peace.
Now, these words of Jesus also provide us with guidance on how to keep true remembrance of the fallen. None of us can actually remember those who have died hundred years ago at the Somme and in the Great War, and with each passing year fewer and fewer people can remember those who have fallen in later conflicts; therefore remembrance cannot be a remembering of faces, voices, and smiles as we would do with departed loved ones, but a reminding ourselves of what the love they shown in laying down of their lives has accomplished for us.
Remembrance should remind us that, when the mindless cruelty of war raged across the whole globe mowing down millions of lives, countless courageous individuals took to battle so that today we might live.
Remembrance should remind us that, when civil liberties were trampled upon by racial hatred and intolerance, they made a conscious sacrifice so that today we might have freedom.
Remembrance should remind us that, when innocents were slaughtered and the world was darkened by regimes who respected neither the sanctity of human life nor the rule of law, they put their lives on the line so that we today might have peace.
Once we are reminded of these things, our remembrance can come alive in a threefold act of thanksgiving, prayer, and commitment. Thanksgiving for what “the brave and the true” have achieved through their selflessness; prayer that God in his mercy may bring these departed brothers and sisters into a place of everlasting joy and refreshment in his presence; and commitment that we may use the livelihood, freedom, and peace we enjoy for the building up of a tolerant and affirming society, for the relief of those in need, and for the advancement of peace in those areas of both our society and our world where peace seems still far off.
Jesus says, ‘No one has greater love than this,to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’
May we, who today remember those who died for our sake, demonstrate the same love by laying down our lives every day in the service of others. Amen.