Thursday, November 11, 2021

Armistice Day

Photos courtesy of Unsplash 
The Armistice of 11 November 1918, signed at Le Francport near Compiègne, ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their last remaining opponent, Germany. It came into force at 11:00 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender. Sadly 2,738 men died on the last day of the war. 

In November 2014, when I was in London with my wife and daughter (who incidentally celebrates her birthday today), we visited the major art installation "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" at the Tower of London. We viewed in the early evening when the floodlit display of poppies was at its eeriest. It marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies had progressively filled the Tower's famous moat over that summer. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war. The poppies encircled the iconic landmark, creating a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower and a location for personal reflection. 

The scale of the installation was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary, creating a powerful visual commemoration. All of the poppies that made up the installation had been sold, raising millions of pounds shared equally amongst six service charities in the UK.  The significance of these charities' vital work is especially poignant as we marked the centenary of the First World War and remembered all those who lived and fought during that time.

The amazing sight of poppies filling the moat at the Tower of London was a vivid reminder that there are some things in life that we dare not forget. The sacrifice of the men in WW1 was very effective but exceptionally costly. 

As a Christian, these great sacrifices reminded me of the price that Jesus paid to provide redemption. The price was great - His death - but the outcome is assured - salvation for those who turn to God and believe. The New Testament teaches that "Christ died for our sins", the result of which means that if we "confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Men and women gave their lives for our freedom, and we salute them. Let us make sure we do not forget the freedom bought at Calvary and in WW1.

King of my life, I crown Thee now,
Thine shall the glory be;
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary.

Lest I forget Gethsemane;
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid,
Tenderly mourned and wept;
Angels in robes of light arrayed
Guarded Thee while Thou slept.

Let me like Mary, through the gloom,
Come with a gift to Thee;
Show to me now the empty tomb,
Lead me to Calvary.

Written by Peter Francis for Messages with Meaning (11/11/21) & Your542Day 


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