Courage is something you hope you have but don’t really know until the moment arrives. The horrific gun attack on thousands of people at the Route 61 Harvest Music Festival in Vegas senselessly took 59 lives injuring over 500 more. One of the injured was a man named William King who bravely lay on top of his wife Kimberley to protect her as bullets rained in on the crowd, taking a bullet to his back centimetres from taking his life. Such courage deserves to be remembered with the name of the killer forgotten forever.
The Battle of Passchendaele ended on the 6th November one hundred years ago. In his War Memoirs published in 1938, Prime Minister David Lloyd George wrote: "Passchendaele was indeed one of the greatest disasters of the war ... no soldier of any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign”. Around 500,000 men on all sides lost their lives with the greater number being British. A senseless part of the war perhaps, but so many brave men lost their lives following commands and fighting for our freedom. Swamped by the mud that literally swallowed up many of them, they fought for little, but they achieved so much for us. We remember them at this time.
The Welsh poet known as Hedd Wyn died on the very first day of the battle of Passchendaele, he wrote this poem;
Alas, this is an age so mean
That everyman is made a Lord,
For all authority's absurd
When God himself fades from the scene.
As quick as God is shown the door
Out come the cannons and the sword:
Hate on hate on brother poured
And scored the deepest on the poor.
The harps that once could help our pain
Hang silent, to the willows pinned.
The cry of battle fills the wind
And blood of lads - it falls like rain.
History records such senseless moments but to this we so often return. Years of peace can quickly be replaced by the folly of human stupidity, as we repeat the same mistakes once again ‘when God himself fades from the scene’ as Wyn describes it. The Christian faith reminds us why, because sin lives in us. The same sin that causes us to do the very thing we shouldn’t, the very thing that can destroy that most precious to us. That sin lives in us, just as it did it still does, and there remains only one answer as the Christian faith teaches: Jesus gave His life for ours. He died that our sin might be forgiven by God and our lives changed forever. Why not come and remember at St. Mary’s this coming Remembrance Sunday 10.45am. (12th November).
Alan Comfort, Rector