Ross Lockhart writes, “A friend of mine from church, an Elder on our Session and daughter of missionaries, commented recently on a Facebook thread debating whether Christians should include acts of ‘Remembrance’ in their Sunday service around November 11th. Specifically, the question of whether a wreath should be placed on the Communion Table or not was raised. This prompted my friend Nicola, a medical doctor in Vancouver and former officer in Her Majesty’s British Army, to write this thoughtful and theological response:”
I place a wreath on the communion table, not to usurp the Savior to whom the table reflects, but because the table is one of remembrance and we remember.
I place a wreath because soldiers do not choose to give up their lives, they choose, for a variety of reasons to give up some of society’s freedoms to join an organization that teaches them obedience, team work, discipline, considering others more then themselves, working together and seeing the efforts of the whole. In that moment of war, when every cell in the body shouts, get down and save yourself, time and again, soldiers do the opposite. Not because they are Christian and believe that they are going to be honored, they don’t have time to have any great theological or philosophical thought, they do it because their gut response to horror and death is to reach our and connect with their brother lying next to them. In their sacrifice, I see so much of Christ’s sacrificial love for me. The wreath does not try to diminish Christ, it shows that in our human, injured and fallen world we can get a glimpse of self sacrifice that most of us in our comfy peaceful and democratic worlds will never fully know.
I sing the national anthem, not because I see any political agenda needs to be glorified, in fact the serving soldier has no political voice. He cannot complain when he is sent to war and argue if it is just. He goes, because he has signed up to do so. And he sings the national anthem to remind himself that he is blessed to live in a country that has democracy and has some ‘just government’ in whatever we can hope for when we are all sinners in need of grace. And he sings it to remind himself that the government is placed their by God and he must respect the government of the day as God has ordained him to, and that God is in control of government and that government will one day be called on to answer to God for the actions that they have taken- that has affected his life and the lives of countless others.
I place a wreath and I sing an anthem, to acknowledge that I live as a soldier under Christ and that I have had the privilege of serving in painful and trying circumstances that cause me to remember the depths to which Christ went to redeem his world, and can I follow his example in uniform or out of it?
Don’t belittle the wreath or the anthem as political statements, they are not, they go so much deeper, and we do well to remember once a year.
Major (Retired) Dr. N. Walton-Knight RAMC