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: