Memories! Significant enough to make an appearance in the repertoire of Barbara Streisand. The Jim Croce song, “Photographs and Memories”, takes us on personal journeys back through photo albums to better and sometimes worse times. A more modern Ed Sheeran captures old loves, past friendships, grieved departures and regretful mistakes. Memories force us deal with our past, they take us appreciatively to love ones gone, to celebrated anniversaries, to lessons learnt and perhaps forgotten, to sage advice and revelations that highlight change.
While the medium of music captures history, the written works in libraries of history are ignored to our peril. To some the dawning of a new age is all that matters and history seems little more than events to hold back new revolutions. But history has its lessons for the revolutionary that when ignored sees mistakes repeated. There is nothing new under the sun. The issues might be different but the principles that govern them have proven timeless.
When global change moves faster than our historical reflections then it has to be said our world will in some measure be out of our control. When reflection is challenged by a need for speed then it is no surprise that debate becomes parlous, freedom of speech is challenged and consequences ill considered.
As we approach Remembrance Day on 11 November we remember those who died in the line of duty. While it is Remembrance Day, it is also Armistice Day which celebrates the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I. A day when weapons ceased to fire and terms of peace were put in place.
Remembrance without armistice is a tragic thought. Remembrance that declares armistice was the hope of history past. Perhaps in a world of rapid change where terrorising threats, rumours of war and wars remain, Remembrance Day should be a day to pray for armistice.
While global change is running apace, the history of the heart of man remains unchanged. We can change the world with a stroke of the keyboard. We can change our promises depending on our mood. We can change our sex according to how we feel. We can change our laws to accommodate self, but God help us when we can’t change our hearts, when the heart of all our problems is in the heart. When the hostilities within never allow for a ceasefire and peace, when a people can’t live civilly with difference of opinion and allow for freedom of speech, religion and conscience then we will always have a Remembrance Day for the dead but not the armistice for which those in our history were fighting.
I know of only one answer to the condition of the human heart and it is in accepting an armistice with God. Every terrorist act, every war and all military posturing, every violent demonstration and cruel word find their beginning in a humanity that is not first and foremost at peace with God and indeed has no heart for the God of truth.
On Remembrance Day it would be most helpful if we remembered the servant of us all. Jesus Christ, who died in the line of duty on a cross and signed an armistice in His own blood that offered forgiveness to those hostile to God and wounded without God. Jesus Christ carried no bombs onto planes or into market places, He never stood before a military parade of soldiers and missiles, He didn’t posture from a White House with threats or carry placards in street demonstrations. He showed compassion to the broken, love for the sinner, and forgiveness to the fallen and called people to return to God and God’s will for their lives. Of course, His life ended on a hill outside a city on which the fallen heart of an unrepentant humanity crucified Him. There the broken heart of Jesus pleaded with His Father in Heaven to forgive and offer an armistice we so desperately need. May history never forget this and every day be Remembrance Day.
Bishop Rick Lewers