With trumpet and bagpipe and silence, the names of those who gave of their lives for our lives will be read. We will not glorify war, but we will remember them. We will do so in a particularly Christian context, as we will be reminded by words of a St. Andrew’s member printed in the Order of Service for this Sunday …
On November 11th Canadians will gather across the country to honour those who died in the service of Canada. Thousands will be present at the War Memorial in Ottawa, the scene of that horrific and cowardly act against Corporal Nathan Cirillo just a few weeks prior.
Some have used this event to promote policy, asking on the one hand for stronger measures to fight terrorism at home or abroad, or on the other hand to withdraw from involvement in foreign conflicts that have consequences at home.
Let us not allow ourselves to be distracted this Remembrance Day by these debates. Let us remember Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent the same way we remember all those who died in the service of Canada, prepared to stand against evil and tyranny, in the name of peace.
The Reverend Donald Caskie was the minister of the Scots Kirk in Paris at the time of the German invasion of France in 1940. Ignoring opportunities to flee, he stayed behind, risking his life to help thousands of Allied soldiers escape occupied territory. He was finally arrested, tortured and sentenced to death until the intervention of a German pastor saved his life. He wrote: “One had seen the best of human nature during those years… One also saw the worst. The spiritual reward for all the suffering was a sharpened awareness of the range, for good and evil, of the human soul and a more profound compassion for (people).”
“Turn from evil and do good: seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34
This solemn time will be framed by two passages of scripture – Micah 4:1-4 reminding us of the ultimate reality towards which we are called to work, one of swords being beaten into plows and all peoples united in peace, and Matthew 2:16-18 reminding us that in the meantime political powers can wreck violence upon the innocents. Our series through the exhibition Rembrandt’s Circle continues with a canvas by Jan van Noordt.