I love going to Church on Remembrance Sunday. That might sound like an odd opening sentence, but it’s become such a focal point in my year that I look forward to that moment at 11am, when we’re silent, when we stop and reflect. This year I was unprepared. Don’t get me wrong, I was there and dressed respectfully, yet I hadn’t emotionally prepared myself.

Last month I came back from Colombia, where I learnt about the work Christian Aid support in a country where conflict has continued for 50 years. We travelled into Cacarica, in the midst of the rainforest. We heard how whole communities were forced from their patches of paradise to live with 4000 other people in a sports centre. We saw the ‘Hill of Terror’. When I was in Colombia, I heard these stories, took them in, processed them as best I could. Only now, sitting in my cosy church in sunny Southend, did I understand the scale of pain and suffering and struggle they went through.

That personal experience gave a depth to Remembrance Day I’ve never realised. ‘Lest we forget’ is a call to let the memory of servicemen live on, to vow the horrors of the World Wars will never return and simultaneously to recognise there are nations and militaries at war today, and ordinary people who get caught in the crossfires of conflict and the instability it inflicts on their lives. In Colombia, I met Father Alberto. He personally receives death threats for helping displaced people back onto their land. We asked him why he did such risky work, when he could display his Christian love in simpler ways, like feeding the homeless in his city. He replied:

The puzzle is when there’s so much conflict in the world, how can I not do something…
To not act would be treason to my faith

We can and must all act to end conflict, and I’m so grateful we don’t need to risk our lives to do so. Peace and justice are twin words, they have to come together. Without peace, there’s injustice and without justice, there’s conflict. I was really challenged by our Remembrance Sunday service, as our Vicar emphasised standing for peace and justice is not a light-hearted commitment. It means looking at the world, all its problems and deciding how I can personally relieve them. That might be not using ‘banter’ as an excuse for bullying, boycotting Amazon because of their aggressive tax evasion policies or praying and standing in solidarity with the people of the Philippines. I, a Christian Aid intern, have shied away from the news in recent days, trying to block out the devastation that’s happened. Then I heard Father Alberto’s voice again.
‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
Micah 5:8
This Remembrance Day for me, the penny dropped. ‘Lest we forget’ goes far beyond a passive act of reflection on the past. It is a call for use to be peace and justice bearers in the present, and look to the future hope that is promised through Jesus.