It was on 4th August 1918 that King George V called a national day of prayer for peace. One hundred days later, peace came with the Armistice at 11th hour on 11th day of 11th month 1918. We will be marking 100 years since then on Remembrance Sunday this year. We will hold a special Remembrance Service with the other churches from Blacon, at the war memorial, at Blacon cemetery at 10.45am on Sunday 11th November. But I hope our commemoration will not only be about that one day.
Peace is very much needed in today’s world. We need to pray for peace today more than ever.
Peace is needed today. Hundreds of thousands of people are still dying now in warfare around the world. People die because of war not only on the front line, but there are also civilians killed due to shelling or bombing of their homes (so-called ‘collateral damage’). Many more also die through famine or drought because supplies cannot get past the warring factions. Further casualties are from treacherous acts of war like genocide, which we know claimed tens of millions of lives in the twentieth century.
And we know that war is ultimately caused by human sinfulness. The solution to war lies within peoples’ hearts. And that is the front line where God is at work. God is at work within our own hearts. The Bible records in John’s Gospel, how Jesus told his followers that He gives us peace. He said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” God’s peace which we receive through Jesus calms us deep within, and goes far deeper than this world’s concept of peace.
God’s word challenges us profoundly in this verse, and in so many others. During the First World War, soldiers in the British army were give copies of John’s Gospel, and through that donation, God’s Word had a powerful effect on many soldiers at some of the hardest times in their lives.
Another aspect of our commemoration at Holy Trinity of this centenary, will be copies of Saint John’s Gospel which we will have available for every church member, either as a keepsake for yourself, or to pass on to someone you think may benefit from receiving one. The edition we will have is a replica of what was first produced in 1914 by Scripture Gift Mission, 43 million copies of which were shared amongst soldiers, prisoners and refugees in WW1. May God’s word inspire us today as much as it did our forebears.
God of all the centuries,
we long to see an end
to the lines that divide:
the lines that scar families,
that deface religions,
the lines that
May you, O God,
who crossed the line between heaven and earth,
work a miracle
in the hearts of humans
and in the destinies
of all countries enduring war.
A prayer from Christian Aid