Today marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, when at the 11th hour of the 11th day of November, World War I ended.  For a few decades, it was known as the Great War and the War to End All Wars, but then nations beat their plowshares into swords yet again, and the blood of young men and women stained the earth.  

There are no World War I veterans alive.  The picture below of three of the last living British World War I veterans was taken in 2012.  All 3 of the men being wheeled to pay homage to the millions who fell in that awful war were over 100. They were once young with dreams and possibility before them. War took the youth and defined the lives of that generation in previously unknown ways. Barbed wire, mustard gas, air battles, and the ungodly trenches were new and horrible.

In remembrance, I reread All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and listened to Dan Carlin’s podcast Hardcore History “Blueprint for Armageddon” I – V.   Each impressed upon me the terror of World War I and the common hope and prayer that no other generation would have to know such terror.  Near the end of All Quiet,” the young soldier reflects on all that is going on around him:
“Summer of 1918 – Never has life in its niggardliness seemed to us so desirable as now; – the red poppies in the meadows around our billets, the smooth beetles on the blades of grass, the warm evenings in the cool, dim rooms, the black mysterious trees of the twilight, the stars and the flowing waters, dreams and long sleep — O Life, life, life!
Summer of 1918 – Never was so much silently suffered as in the moment when we depart once again for the front-line. Wild, tormenting rumours of an armistice and peace are in the air, they lay hold on our hearts and make the return of the front harder than ever.  
Summer of 1918 – Never was life in the line more bitter and more full of horror than in the hours of the bombardment, when the blanched faces lie in the dirt and the hands clutch at the one thought: No! No! Not now! Not now at the last moment!
Summer of 1918 – Breath of hope that sweeps over the scorched fields, raging fever of impatience, of disappointment, of the most agonizing terror of death, insensate question: Why? Why do they make an end? And why do these rumours of an end fly about?”
The survivors of that war carried hurt and wounds with them all of their lives, and it affected how they lived and the choices they made in ways that have profoundly shaped every generation since.

Today, we with gratitude beyond words honor their memory, and we pray for the men and women who serve even now.  May God bless them and keep them safe.

But for all time, we will pray for the day when no young men or women go off to war because there is no war anymore.  We pray for a glorious time, when the words of the prophet are fulfilled:

                                    He shall judge between the nations,

                                   and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

                          they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

                                 and their spears into pruning hooks;

                            nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

                              neither shall they learn war any more.


                                                            Isaiah 2:4

Also, please remember Pastor Laura in your prayers this week, as she appears before the Board of Ordained Ministry for her oral interviews that are the final step before ordination.  May God who called her give her the words and assurance she needs and may those who listen be directed by God’s will alone.

Pastor Scarlett