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Remembering the end of World War One 

This year Remembrance Sunday (11th November) marks the centenary of the end of World War One. Of the 65 million men who were mobilized, 8.5 million were killed and a further 21 million wounded. Wilfred Owen wrote of those ‘who die as cattle.’

How should we celebrate this anniversary? In remembering the Armistice, our response should be to desire Micah’s vision of universal peace in our world: ‘They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’ (Micah 4:3).

However, why keep asking God for peace, when we continue to see such violence and unrest in our world? The Bible makes it clear that peace is not just the absence of war or being untroubled. It means being in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ, with other people and with wider society.

Of course, Micah’s words are looking to end of time when God will make all things new in His universal kingdom. However, these promises also can speak to us now. The ministry of Jesus demonstrated the kingdom or reign of God breaking into the everyday, as He healed the sick and brought reconciliation and hope. When we pray for peace, we’re rejecting the ‘old order of things’, of violence and war and asking God to make His kingdom real today. We’re citizens of the new kingdom, reshaping the old.

The end of the centenary of World War 1 is a time to consider peace. Although the war did not bring a lasting peace to the world, for the Christian there’s a deeper lesson: peace begins with the healing of hearts, the restoring of relationships and with a deep, costly commitment to justice.


The Soldier’s Prayer

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,

I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things,

I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy,

I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,

I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,

I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for –

But everything that I had hoped for,

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am among all men most richly blessed.