At the corps we were visiting, a military cadet and senior soldier came down the aisle carrying a wreath, while The Last Post played. It was a solemn occasion and we were all standing at attention, except for one boy in the front row. While he was not a distraction, he certainly caught my eye. Why wasn’t he standing like the rest of us?
During a pause in the ceremony, as the wreath was laid on the altar, I noticed a girl—almost certainly his older sister—come down the aisle and whisper something in the boy’s ear. He stood up immediately. I imagine she whispered something like this: “Mom says if you don’t stand up right now, you’ll be in huge trouble when we get home!” If so, he certainly got the message.
I don’t blame the boy for not standing up initially. He either didn’t know better or maybe he just plain forgot. The truth is that we all need to be reminded of important truths from time to time. This Remembrance Day, let’s reflect upon the sacrifice made by so many to preserve the freedoms that often we take for granted. Let’s also bring to mind the spiritual blessings God abundantly shares with us. In 2 Timothy 2:8-9, the Apostle Paul declares, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s Word is not chained.” What are Christians to remember on Remembrance Day?
First, we remember that Jesus is risen from the dead. We know the Resurrection is a historical event from some 2,000 years ago. However, it’s noteworthy that the tense of the Greek in the verse frames the Resurrection as a present reality. Indeed, the crucified and risen Christ is with us today. We serve a risen Saviour.
We remember that Jesus Christ was born of the seed of David. The fourth doctrine of The Salvation Army declares that Jesus “is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.” And because Jesus was fully human, he has the unique ability to relate to the daily challenges that come our way. That ought to be reason for comfort.
We remember that we have the gospel. The message that we proclaim is positive, powerful and optimistic. In a world full of bad news, Christians have the privilege of sharing good news. In 1 Corinthians 15:1, Paul writes, “And now I want to remind you, my friends, of the good news which I preached to you, which you received, and on which your faith stands firm” (GNT).
Finally, we remember that the Word of God cannot be chained. Paul was chained in prison and therefore constrained from preaching. However, the Word of God cannot be held back. God will always find a way to declare his power and presence to the world.
Last year, my wife and I travelled to Vietnam, including a trip to the city of Ho Chi Minh, named for the Communist dictator who brutally led his country for decades. We walked by the massive mausoleum where his body is interred. Thousands line up every day to look at the remains of a leader promoted by the state to have almost godlike qualities.
As we went in to one of the shops just a short distance from the mausoleum, we were greeted with music that I did not expect to hear in an officially atheist country. It was a recording of the Christmas carol, Silent Night. The music and words were good news: “Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”
It was a remarkable moment. In the shadow of the revered dictator’s grave, the Lord found a way to remind the listener of the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Word of God cannot be chained.
In a season set aside for remembrance, let’s not forget these important truths from 2 Timothy: We serve a risen Saviour. He relates to our daily experience. We share good news with the world. And God will always find a way for his Word to be declared, most often through his people. These are all truths worth remembering during this season and beyond.
Colonel Edward Hill is the chief secretary in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.