It is deeply moving to think that 100 years ago on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the Great War finally ended. Our thoughts at this time rightly turn to the awful cost of conflict suffered in both World Wars and as a nation and commonwealth, led by Her Majesty the Queen , we stop and remember the fallen. It is staggering to think that on the final day of World War 1, with the Armistice set to be signed at 5am, an attack was launched at 420am. On that last morning of warfare on the western front alone, there were 10,944 casualties recorded and 2,738 deaths.

The poppy remains a powerful symbol that signifies our will and resolve to remember those who have lost their lives in the service of their country. And because it speaks of sacrifice the poppy ultimately reminds us of the suffering, brutality, anguish and reality of war. It is right that we pause and remember. It is fitting that in doing so we honour the fallen.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning – we will remember them.”

During this time of Remembrance there will be many people feeling the loss of loved ones for conflict has sadly remained an almost permanent feature of life. Our military personnel have seen service in Korea, The Suez, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leon, Iraq and Afghanistan. (Between 2007-2014 our military deployed in Iraq totalled 35,000 and Afghanistan reached 128,000). All these deployments have claimed lives in the struggle for peace and freedom. In our prayers we remember the families who never saw their loved ones again and for whom this time of year will always be deeply significant. The reality of sacrifice is enshrined in the poppy. The poppy ultimately is about people.

At the heart of the Christian faith is another symbol that also speaks of suffering and sacrifice. It is a powerful symbol that resonates with the message of hope but it does so because it reminds us at the same time of the reality of death. The cross. This symbol ultimately speaks of Jesus, the Son of God, who gave Himself for us. He took our place and paid the price for our sins to open up the way to God by repentance and faith. In trusting in Him He takes our sins away. May we know Him more and more and not only remember Him but in faith, live for Him.

God bless