Reflection: Remembrance Tide – Canon Robert Vun

Weekly Reflection (9 November 2020)

A very good morning to you. How are we today? I am delighted that we can share this short time again today. Much had happened these two weeks. For us in Melbourne, the best news is that we had been COVID-19 free for the past 10 days. Yesterday’s announcement from the Premier to begin from today the Third Step of Victoria’s roadmap to reopening, is encouraging and exciting.

The news is not good for many countries where the infection rate is progressively worse – so much so that they are going into another lockdown and their medical facilities are at breaking point. Let us remember them in our prayers. Let us also be discipline in preventing the spread of this virus.

The day after tomorrow is the 11th of November. It is Remembrance Day.

On this day we pause to observe one minute’s silence at 11 am, in memory of those men and women who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts. We also remember all those who have served our country in the Defence Force the past 100 years.

On 11th November 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after four years of continuous warfare. With their armies retreating and close to collapse, German leaders signed an Armistice, ending the First World War.

From the summer of 1918, the five divisions of the Australian Corps had been at the forefront of the allied advance to victory. Beginning with their stunning success at the battle of Hamel in July, they helped to turn the tide of the war at Amiens in August, followed by the capture of Mont St Quentin and Péronne, and the breaching of German defences at the Hindenburg Line in September.

By early October the exhausted Australians were withdrawn from battle. They had achieved a fighting reputation out of proportion to their numbers, but victory had come at a heavy cost. They suffered almost 48,000 casualties during 1918, including more than 12,000 dead.

More than 416,000 Australians volunteered for service in World War I. Of these, 324,000 served overseas. 61,919 Australians die at sea, in the air, and on foreign soil, including 45,000 who died on the Western Front in France and Belgium. More than 8,000 died on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

Few Australian families were left untouched by the events of World War I. It was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars.’ Most had lost a father, son, daughter, brother, sister or friend.

The symbol of the red poppies on Remembrance Day came about when in May 1915 Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps was working in a dressing station on the front line to the north of Leper, Belgium. There he wrote the now famous poem, “In Flanders Fields”, after seeing the rows upon rows of freshly dug graves from the dreadful slaughter of the battle fought the day before.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In New York in November 1918 an American woman called Moria Michael came across this poem by John McCrae. She was so moved that she made a personal pledge to “keep the faith”. She felt compelled to make a note of this pledge and hastily scribbled down a response entitled “We Shall Keep the Faith” on the back of a used envelope. It reads:

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

From that day she vowed to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance.

The poppy became a symbol of ‘Life’ and ‘Resurrection’: the red petals were the colour of the blood that stained the battlefield; the yellow/black centre represented the mud and desolation; the green of the stem became representative of the forests and fields where generations of men have died to make their land free; the stem itself symbolised the courage of the fallen soldiers. Life and freedom, all in this tiny, overlooked flower.

Today’s world is fraud with the dangers of potential conflict and war. It is important that we work for peace and ask for God to give us peace. May our generation never experience the horrors, destruction, sufferings and anguish of war.

Let us Pray

For Our Nation
Almighty God, we pray for our nation. May we always walk in the paths of truth and honour; may we be a beacon light to all nations who struggle for self-government and freedom. Strengthen our leaders that they may govern us soberly and sincerely and so fulfil their heavy responsibilities. Make us a just people, wanting other nations to have the same privileges we claim for ourselves. Help us to honour our native soil with sound manners at home and abroad. Grant this for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen

For Peace
God of peace and love, you have made of one blood all nations to dwell upon the earth, and by your Son, Jesus Christ, have broken down the walls of partition between race and race. Break down afresh all that divides us from one another. Temper our pride; shame our jealousies; and do away with all prejudice, that the bonds of fellowship and mutual service may unite the east and west, the north and south, that we may live together in perpetual peace to the glory of your great name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Of Thanksgiving
Lord our God, we offer to you our heartfelt thanks for all your mercies to our Commonwealth: for the devoted lives of those who have made this Nation great and free, for deliverance from civil strife and bloodshed and from the craft and power of foreign foes, for the brave and faithful dead, who willingly laid down their lives on the battlefields of war or who succumbed to the perils of the deep or of the air. We bless you for their dauntless courage in defence of this country. May our remembrance of their sacrifice be a reminder to present and future generations of the cost of our freedom and of all the benefits we enjoy and an incentive to sacrificial service for all people. Help us to treasure our great inheritance, that your blessing may rest on our land till the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of your Son; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be all glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen

Bible Reading – Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, He burns the chariots with fire!
‘Be still, and know that I am God; I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!’
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

The Commemoration
Almighty God, we thank you for all those who did not count their lives dear to themselves but laid them down for our sakes. Let the memory of their devotion and sacrifice always be an example to us, that we may live as faithful servants of him who died for our eternal salvation.

We look forward with thanksgiving to that time when we will join, with all who have died in the faith, in the joy of your heavenly kingdom; where sorrow and pain are no more and where every tear will be wiped away. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Ode to the Fallen
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
All: We will remember them.

Lest we forget
All: Lest we forget

Let us now remember the fallen as the Last Post is played, then followed by a minute of silence before the Rouse is played.

Last Post

(One Minute’s Silence)


The Blessing
Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour every person; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you and remain with you always. Amen

Thank you for sharing this Remembrance Reflection and prayer with me. Next Monday I shall continue sharing my life story with you as an encouragement to you in your walk with God.

Till then, rejoice often. Do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.