As you may have noticed, the church is being floodlit in red at the moment, as part of our remembrance at this time of year, and our marking of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. If you haven’t seen it, do take an evening walk in the village and have a look; it’s very effective, and quite atmospheric—so much so that a couple of people told me it looks spooky and wondered if it was for Halloween! (No—see the blog post on that subject from last week…) Red is the colour of the poppies which grew in the fields of northern Europe where so many fell; and the colour of the blood of the fallen, giving their lives in the service of others.
On Sunday 9th November, many of us will gather at the war memorial and then in church, to remember—just as people will be doing all over the country. A bugler will play the ‘Last Post’—the call normally sounded last thing at night, the sign that it is time to sleep. We will keep silence for two minutes. Then the bugle will play again: ‘Reveille’—the morning call to wake.
It’s a moving and solemn moment: because even as the morning call is sounded, we are remembering those who cannot hear it, and will not wake.
However, as we mark the two minutes’ silence in church on 9th November, we need to remember that we do so in a building that exists to remind us of another man who fell; another who gave his life in the service of others. The difference is that, when the morning call sounded for Jesus Christ on the third day after he died, he did wake—and rose to new life.
So at our service on the 9th, as well as remembering those who have died, and praying for the ones left behind; we will also be giving thanks for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in which we discover a hope that cannot be drowned out even by the raging of wars in the world. Because when the Last Post sounded over his life, it wasn’t the end of his story—and when the Reveille sounded for him, he rose from the dead in victory—death defeated and future hope secured.
In the words of the famous hymn, rightly popular at funerals, and which we will sing on 9th November:
“I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.”