Sunday, November 11, 2012

...the poppies grow

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
 Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

This poem is by Lt. Colonel John McCrae.
He was a soldier, a physician and a poet
during World War I.

Today, November 11th, our church, 
along with other churches throughout the world,
will ring our church bell 11 times at 11 AM.
This ringing of the bells
was at the request of an organization called
Veterans for Peace.

As you may know,
November 11th is Veterans Day.
What you may not know is that 
this day only became Veterans Day in 1954.

Before that it was known as Armistice Day.
November 11th was the day 
when what we now call World War I ended
On this day in 1918 the fighting stopped, the guns were laid down
and the  “war to end all wars” ended.

Over 29,000,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in that war.

On November 11, 1918
bells rang out across the world to celebrate that the guns had gone silent.
Congress declared Armistice Day a national holiday 
“to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

Sadly, peace did not last very long.
As we know, other wars have followed.

If anyone knows the horrors of war and the priceless value of peace
it is veterans.
It is these men and women
and the families of those men and women 
who offer everything they have.

For many of us, 
being willing to lay down our lives for what we believe
is a concept beyond our understanding.

Some may argue that violence and war
are not the way 
to bring about a lasting peace.

Some may argue that violence and war
are not following the path of Jesus Christ,
the Prince of Peace.

These are good and profound arguments.

But we must be careful
lest we look like the scribes in long robes--
reaping all the benefits from the sacrifices others are making 
so that our lives might be comfortable and safe--
while devouring what others give.

Whatever our position on war or peace,
we must always be mindful of those 
who have been willing to give everything.

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