Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nov 11 Sermon

Why Celebrate War?
A Dialogue Sermon for Remembrance Day
Royal Canadian Legion Branch #145
Atikokan ON

Gord: Greg! Greg! Time to go to the Remembrance Day service! Why aren’t you ready yet?
Greg: Because I’m not going.
Gord: Not going? But you always said you liked the Remembrance Day service?
Greg: Well I just don’t get it. Why do we make such a fuss?
Gord: I don’t understand. You know what Remembrance Day is right?
Greg: Yeah, we get together at the same time on the same day that World War 1 ended to remember the war and the people who fought in it.
Gord: That’s right.
Greg: But most of those people are dead now. I mean they aren’t there anymore, why can’t we just all sleep in?
Gord: Well do we only gather for their benefit? Or do we do it for us too?
Greg: I don’t get it.
Gord: IF we only had ceremonies on Remembrance Day to say thanks to those people who went to war, or to let them remember their friends then yeah, we would stop doing them soon. But I think we celebrate Remembrance Day for other reasons too. What do you think those might be?
Greg: I don’t know, to celebrate heroes?
Gord: That is one thing. But more than that, we celebrate Remembrance Day to remind us of the reality and the possibility of war.
Greg: What do you mean?
Gord: Well a long time ago a man named George Santayana said that people who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. We pause to remember war in the hopes that we can avoid it happening again.
Greg: Doesn’t look like that is working very well. You sure that Santayana guy wasn’t a teacher reminding kids to study?
Gord: Well your right, we do seem to have trouble avoiding wars. You know, they called World War 1 the “war to end all wars”, that’s how disturbing they found it. But unfortunately the name didn’t come true. Still we pray that one of the wars will be the last one. You ready to go to the service yet?
Greg: Not quite, I still have a few questions. Like why do we talk about celebrating this day? I mean you hear all sorts of stories about heroes and great things people did during the wars, doesn’t it make it seem like we are celebrating the war? I thought we were supposed to work for peace?
Gord: That is a good question, or set of questions. Firstly, talking about celebrating the day means more that we find some way to make it special. IT doesn’t mean a celebration like a birthday or Christmas.
Greg: If you say so. But I know there are usually donuts.
Gord: Your question about celebrating the war is harder. I have heard a lot of people ask that over the years. And you are right, we are supposed to pray for peace. In fact in church we often talk about how God’s plan is for all people to live together peacefully.
Greg: Oh, like that story about the wolf and the lamb and the little baby with the snake den.
Gord: Well really it is a prophecy not a story but yes that’s right. So one of the things I always do on Remembrance Day is pray for peace. Sometimes I use a lot of words but sometimes just two simple words the Legion has used in some of the videos they have produced over the years – Never Again.
Greg: OH, so we remember the people who went to war, we say thank-you to them, but we also remember that war is a terrible thing and promise to work for peace?
Gord: You got it! Ready to go?
Greg: Not quite. There are just 2 more things I don’t understand.
Gord: OK, what?
Greg: Well I had always thought that only the “other guys” did really bad things during the war but last year I heard people talking about Canadians doing some not so good things. How do we remember those sorts of things?
Gord: Well that is part of being honest with ourselves about what war means. Have you ever heard the saying “the winners write history”? (Greg nods) Well if we are serious about working for peace we need to write that history carefully. The fact is that by many standards all countries do things they wish they hadn’t or at least wish they hadn’t had to do during a war. Along the same line, I have always believed that Remembrance Day was for remembering all the people who died in a war, not just our own soldiers. We have to remember soldiers on both sides and also those people who just got caught living in the wrong place, and those people who were left at home. WE have to remember the whole story, and that might help us remember how important it is to avoid war again.
Greg: That makes sense. But I still don’t think I want to go to the service.
Gord: Why now?
Greg: Well I keep thinking about what is happening now in Afghanistan. Doesn’t it seem strange to worry about people fighting almost 100 years ago while Canadians are fighting right now?
Gord: Well sort of. But of course we remember them too, and the ones who have been killed in Afghanistan. And even though some of us question whether they should even be there we still need to find ways to remember them, to thank them for being willing, and to pray that they get home safely. All of those things can be part of Remembrance Day too. You see, over the years we focus on different things as the world changes. In the first few years it was a time for people to remember friends and relatives who had died in the war. Then it was a little bit farther away. And now for a lot of us it is a chance to remember our history and to remember the troubles of the present and to hope for the future.
Greg: I think I understand now. And I guess I can go to the service.
Gord: Good to hear. We need young people to keep remembering when the older folks are gone. We should never forget the pledge to be people of peace. Remembering what happens when we go to war is an important part of that.

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