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'Lest We Forget' - Homily on Armistice Day in Cleveleys 2023

Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5 and John 15:9-14

May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today, of all days, we often hear the words ‘lest we forget’ a phrase taken from a Rudyard Kipling poem not about war but adopted by those who survived the horrors of the first world war. One the stanzas says this:

'God of our fathers, known of old,

Lord of our far-flung battle line,

Beneath whose awful hand we hold

Dominion over palm and pine—

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!'

The phrase taken up after the horrors of the first world war and echoed after world war 2 and other conflicts is central to what we do today. The men and women who survived times of war said in one voice never again, lest we forget. Unfortunately, there are so many places in the world that are doing just that today, forgetting the horror, the evil of war, waged often by evil men for evil purposes, that cause brave men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice for their friends. We live in a time that has forgotten, and what we do today, by saying together ‘lest we forget’ not only does honour to those people from this community and from this country who lay down their lives for their friends, but it reminds us that if we truly want to show the brave men and women from our community in years past who gave all they could give for our freedom, our cry in our turn must also be ‘lest we forget’.

The only way to defeat evil is through love. The love one has to lay down ones life for a friend. This is at the very centre of the Christian faith, that we heard in our second reading, that victory of love we celebrate every easter, Jesus giving up His life for us. God promises that one day all the swords will be turned into plowshares and the spears into pruning hooks. That nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore. But till that glorious day when eternal peace is given, we give honour to the bravery of our armed forces past and present often called to the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and in a world that is forgetting the horror of war, our cry shall still be ‘lest we forget’. Amen

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