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The Word on the Week

War no More

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 World War 1 officially ended. The date was declared a national holiday in many nations, and coincides with Remembrance Day in the UK and Veterans Day in the USA.
It is part of the UK tradition to wear a poppy, reminiscent of the fields of Flanders, where so many soldiers died. In Ireland a Shamrock with a red centre, as worn recently by the Taoiseach, may become the accepted symbol of remembering our war dead.
Sadly, it is 30 years since an IRA bomb killed 12 people at a Remembrance Service in the square at Enniskillen. They, and many other victims of violence, are now included among the dead who are mourned on the 11th November.

The legacy of war is hard to erase. Some attempt at having schoolchildren ‘adopt’ a dead soldier, perhaps one from their parish and visit his war grave, may help to counteract the bitterness left behind by war. This introduces the youth to the horrors of war but at the same time gives a practical outlet for their emotions. An added dimension is the introduction of schoolchildren from the opposing side in an effort to see that, there among the war graves, grief knows no boundaries.

When the prophet Isaiah looked down the avenues of time he saw Mt Zion (Jerusalem) with the nations streaming to it. There the ways of the Lord would be taught and justice dispensed (Isaiah Chapter 2 verses 1 to 5). There would be no need for weaponry. The hymn writer captures it: –
To ploughshares men shall beat their swords,
To pruning hooks their spears.
No longer host encountering host
Shall crowds of slain deplore; (no longer will there be grieving for the dead)
They’ll hang the trumpet in the hall
And study war no more.

We are far from this ideal of “study war no more”! King David, himself a warrior, realised the folly of pursuing war. In Psalm 68 he wrote the lines to the Lord: –
“Trample underfoot those who lust after tribune;
Scatter the peoples who delight after war” (Verse 30).

St Paul saw the cause of war most clearly. It lay within himself (and us)! There was a war on and it was against indwelling sin. He was defeated by it. He could not, by himself, get the victory. Only when he laid his sins at the foot of the cross; only when he saw the atoning blood flow over them could he claim the victory in Jesus name (Romans Chapter 7 verses 21 to 25).
This private war is one which, through trusting in the work of Christ, we can be on the winning side.