Sunday, 11 November 2012
Today is Remembrance Sunday here in Britain, when we honour all those who sacrificed their ‘tomorrows’ in the First World War, and onwards through the years of continuing conflict, so that we could have our ‘todays.’
As we stood with heads bowed for the long, silent minute of the Act of Remembrance, in church this morning, I reflected on the sacrifice that others had made so that I could live in freedom. I was reminded of the words of Jesus in John 15:13 as he spelled out the true meaning of love.
“Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” he said, knowing what lay ahead of him. Years later, on the other side of the Cross and resurrection, the apostle John remembered those words and commented “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay our lives for our brothers.”
I never cease to be amazed at the total commitment soldiers seem to have to one another. They have shared so much, that even when they are injured, they are often utterly determined to return to their regiment as soon as possible. The phrase ‘I’ve got your back’ means that they can step out into danger, confident that the man behind them is on the alert keeping watch, sheltering them from the enemy that they can’t see. As the Three Musketeers used to say ‘One for all and all for one!’
Who looks after your back? As Christians we’re definitely in a war zone. We need those who ‘understand where we’re coming from’ and will pray for us and protect our backs. We need encouragement, a listening ear, and sometimes a hand to pull us up and get us back on the right path again. There’s no room for ego’s and personal kingdom building in God’s army. Satan loves it when we stumble and sometimes get wiped out altogether.
When a soldier is hit by the enemy, the cry goes up ‘Man down.’ and immediately the whole focus is to get that soldier back on his feet and fit for battle. I wrote this to honour those who have given their all, and to remind me that I have a responsibility, to watch out for those who seek to ‘fight the good fight’ by my side..
“Man Down!” That’s what they shout Lord,
when one of those they call ‘comrades in arms’
sprawls wounded on the desert sand,
or, worst of all, lies dead.
And this man was so young, dear Lord,
just three days short of twenty one.
But now he’ll have no use for gift wrapped packages
so neatly stowed beneath his army bunk….
In ambush, snipers watched and waited
while he, and many like him,
searched for, and then disarmed
those lethal IED’s.
He made the sandy path a little safer
for those who came behind,
hoping that by his skill and courage,
he would be able to prevent
another agonising shout -‘Man Down’ ….
You know about self sacrifice, dear Lord.
For ‘Greater love’ you said while here on earth
‘has no one showed than this,
That one man lay his life down for his friends.’
And that is what you did.
No bombs or bullets took your life.
But knowing very well what lay ahead
and sweating blood, you chose
the whip, the thorns, the spittle and the taunts,
and for Your enemies,
as well as for Your friends,
You chose the nails.
And now Lord you have called each one of us,
to fight against the enemy of souls.
Not flesh and blood,
but rulers, powers and evil spiritual force
in heavenly realms.
Unseen, but prowling nonetheless
to weaken and destroy.
Today please help us so to stand,
strong in Your power,
protected by Your blood
so that whatever strategem he may employ,
the shout will not go up from us