The following, from the Faith section of Sunday’s Times, has been written by Father Andrew Lloyd, Senior Force Chaplain for the British army in Basra, Iraq:
One of the beautiful things in Iraq is the desert sky. A fellow chaplain reminded me that Abraham, the father of faith, was told by God that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky. This Iraqi celestial canopy was the sky Abraham of Ur looked upon and it was a promise filled with timelessness and one that transcends the years, God in his life-giving abundance. The sacrifice, service and loss we feel keenly today have a timeless quality in the memory of our families and nations.
God’s promise of life and peace is also timeless and, unlike our human failure of war, full of faithfulness.
“Their name liveth for evermore,” wrote Kipling for the War Graves Commission, and he was right. I, like many, want that to translate into eternal peace, hope and justice in this world as well as the next.
Like many returning from operational theatres this autumn, I will probably be too tired, and living with too many mixed emotions, to do much about the future just now. We will have lived and witnessed what many in commerce, politics, sport, church, academia and celebrity are denied most of the time. In spite of all we are privileged to share memories that lift us out of the everyday experiences of our fellow citizens.
Our poppy, our glance at the village war memorial or comfort before the television to watch the festival of remembrance are the least that is demanded of us as expression of our humble thankfulness for the ultimate sacrifice.
Faithfulness, commitment to peace at every level and the chance to serve the community are real remembrance. The graves, and parades, all the panoply of the eleventh day, are only signposts to the future. Our memory across the family generations should remind us where we really want to be, in peace, living life to the full.