This last Sunday, our communities, towns, cities and nation joined much of the world in commemorating the end of the First World War. Moving memorials and pieces of art have been added to pre-existing memorials and cenotaphs recently, to mark this special 100-year anniversary.
As young people, it can be particularly poignant for us to reflect on how the war changed, and still changes, the lives of so many young people. The young men who went to fight in Northern France in 1914-18 became known as ‘The Lost Generation’. Few families were lucky enough to not experience some loss at the hands of the war, be it a father, a son, a brother or an uncle. Watching a documentary last weekend, I was struck by just how many young men were not just willing to sign up to fight, but excited to do so. There are stories of some boys, as young as 14, lying about their age to sign up. The things these boys and young men went through and saw are beyond our worst nightmares. We are always told by our parents and teachers that the years of our youth are the best years of our life, and they may be right! So, it’s important that we remember the boys and young men of the First World War, who gave the best years of their lives, and indeed in many cases their entire lives, so that we can enjoy the peace and freedom we have today. As the quote states: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today.’
War can seem a distant thing to us today, and we are very blessed that it is. The closest we get here at Castlerigg is when the RAF fly over Keswick, practicing their low-flight manoeuvres. It’s always a real spectacle when they fly over, and the noise is awesome. When we are out walking with school groups, and the planes fly over, all the young people are amazed! Having become more used to it now, though, I find my mind drawn to the other places in the world where warplanes fly over at such a low altitude. Places like Syria and Yemen. There, the sight of a warplane is not a spectacle to admire, or something to get excited about: it’s something that puts great fear in your heart, an omen of death. In the UK, we take for granted that such a sight in the sky is a friendly sight, which would never do us any harm. What a great contrast.
Let us pray, giving thanks to God for the peace in our country, and Europe, today. We pray for our leaders, that they will have the wisdom and courage to always pursue peace. Lord, hear us.
We pray for those who have been killed or had their lives changed in the course of fighting for their country. That they may be welcomed into your Kingdom. Lord, hear us.
Let us pray for the areas of the world where there is war and conflict, especially Syria and Yemen. That civilians may find shelter and safety, and that leaders of warring nations and factions may strive towards true peace. Lord, hear us.
Let us pray for those whose job it is to keep us safe. That You, Lord, will keep them safe. Comfort them, and their families, in their worry and fear. Lord, hear us.