Faithlife Sermons

Remembrance Day 2010

Notes & Transcripts

I speak to you in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - Amen

How are we to remember - War

For many of us War is a phenomenon seen through the lens of a television camera or a journalist's account of fighting in distant parts of the world.

            For a few of us it is held in the memory of a family member that served

                        For a fewer still it is a personal memory

President Eisenhower’s when he helped to institute the American version of Remembrance day (Veterans' Day) suggested a three-fold purpose:

1.      Remembering those who fought and died,

2.      Celebrating all veterans,

3.      And promote an enduring peace


I bring to you this morning, not primarily a sermon on the scripture of the day, but more reflections of remembrance

Today we honour those who fought for Canada in the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as those who have served since then. More than 1.5 million Canadians have served our country in this way, and more than 100,000 have died.

"Recessional" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling, which he composed on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 it reflects a sense of - ‘a passing-away era’

            Far-called, our navies melt away;

            On dune and headland sinks the fire:

            Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

            Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

            Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.

            Lest we forget—lest we forget!

It has been said that ‘we are destined to repeat history if we don’t learn from it’

            And the message of ‘Remembrance day’ is that we must remember in order to learn

Here at the Farringdon our worship space is filled with reminders from which we must learn

            To put it in context of two weeks ago with ‘All Saint Day’

                        We are surrounded by so vast a cloud of witnesses

There is a brass plaque just above my right shoulder and it reads “Organ is dedicated “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Lieut. Edson Loy Pease – 1st Hussars (Huzzars)

6th C.A.R. (Canadian Armored Regiment) Killed in action in Normandy, France, June 6th 1944

There are our flags that are permanently displayed surrounding the “Roll of Honour” plaques – on your left is the Union Flag which until 1965 was the predominate Flag used in Canada,

There is, of course, our National Flag

       On your right there is the Royal Canadian Air Force flag (prior to 1965) and the Royal Navy

And of course, most significantly, the ‘Roll of Honour’ for those members of Farringdon who were in the services during both World Wars – It reads on both “Men who enlisted in the cause of Justice, Righteousness and Liberty”

            For all these and more… We Remember those who fought and died,

                        lest we forget!

At the back of the Sanctuary there is a plaque that reads “Organ Chimes in memory of Lieutenant Colonel The Rev. Howard W. Johnston – Minister of Farringdon 1969-1977

            He served as a padre or chaplain in the 2nd World War

            For this and more… We Celebrating all veterans

                        lest we forget!

And there are many other items of remembrance, I draw your attention particularly the stained glass window at the back – which is known as the “Come unto me” window - that invites people into the life and ministry of Jesus Christ

            For this and more… We Promoting an enduring peace         

                        lest we forget!

Although I was born 25 years after the 2nd world war, it has had a lasting affect on me, personally.

My Grandfather, my Dad’s Father served and was killed in his final mission aboard a Lancaster bomber believed to be flying somewhere over France

          And this is the silver cross given to my Grandmother and then at her death given to me.

My grandfather (my Mother’s father) survived the First World War where he served first as a stretcher-bearer and then later a chaplain

I have a miniature baptismal font that he had with him in the First World War,

Who knows how men’s last moments are connected with this?

And I have his preaching scarf, something that as an Anglican Priest, he would have worn nearly every Sunday for the rest of his life

And on it is the insignia of the Canadian Forces and the ribbons for the medals that he was given over his two tour of duty


When I ask my mom about my Grandfather’s involvement in WWI, and in particular because he was part of the Canadian effort of famous battle at Vimy Ridge.

She has no direct stories to tell… only that, on times when he would remember the war, the war that was to end all wars.

He would go quiet and withdrawal from everyone. The memories too painful to share…

Although, the 1st World War brought him back to England and he didn’t talked about it – yet he displayed and remembered each week during holy worship his service in the Canadian Forces

So let us remember as those that served, not telling stories to glorify war or any battle, let us quietly honour the suffering and horror that our fellow Canadians endured for the ideal of a better world!



I would like to share with you part of an article from a British newspaper - Sunday Telegraph written by Kevin Myers, a few years ago, and it is titled “Salute to a brave and modest nation”

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will bury its dead, …   It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored… Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall…That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved. Yet its purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy.   Almost 10% of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.  …   The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world.   The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. … 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.   … Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives… It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.  

            Lest we forget!

1.      Remembering those who fought and died,

2.      Celebrating all veterans,

3.      And promote an enduring peace

There are many things that strike me as important messages and they will hopefully stand out for you as well, but one in particular jumped out to me, it speaks of Canada being torn in two different directions:

It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, a divided identity

This to me is a characteristic that we Christians share

      We have our Christian identity in the world - A divided identity

          As one writer put it: we are “resident aliens” - In the world - but alien to ‘ways of the world’

Although today, I am speaking about reflections about remembrance, I want to draw your attention to our passage from the prophet Isaiah,

17For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. (Isaiah 65:17-18)

Here we have God’s vision for the earth – we have the vision of what our hope, our faith is based upon

            As Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor has beautifully said:

“Faith is believing in the "New" Jerusalem when the one we see on the TV news is so Old”


And might I suggest it is this vision of a better place, of standing up against those in the world that seek to destroy the ideal of a better place, that is the motivation of those that go to serve in war

            They went… and they go … promoting an enduring peace

And so I want to draw your attention to the mission of promoting enduring peace by sharing with you a wonderful email with a powerful story that I received from several people

It has a message with an act of remembrance yet with a purpose of looking forward with vision of promoting enduring peace

Remember that it has been said that ‘we are destined to repeat history if we don’t learn from it’

In Canada and most of the western world we live in peace, and so without conflict at the forefront we need sometimes dramatic illustrations


Back in September, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at MM Robinson High School, in Burlington, she did something not to be forgotten.

On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.

'Ms. Cothren, where're our desks?'

She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'

They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades.'

'No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.'

She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.

By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms.Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.

Twenty-seven (27) War Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over  
and stand alongside the wall...

By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned..

Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you.

They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them.

It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens.

They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education.  

Don't ever forget it.'

This season of Remembrance, may you be filled with gratitude and strive to fulfill the third component: promoting enduring peace

            Get involved in whatever effort you can

Know this for certain that, our veterans and their families sacrificed a great deal and went off to war in distant lands, went in the belief that the values and beliefs enjoyed by Canadians were being threatened.

They truly believed that "Without freedom there can be no ensuring peace and without peace no enduring freedom."

                        and Christ’s words -   “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least                          of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

And in closing: our hope is based on God’s vision

 17For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth… for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. (Isaiah 65:17-18)        


Lest we forget – Amen

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