We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument.
Heather Robertson, A Terrible Beauty, The Art of Canada at War, 1977.
Agincourt commemorated Remembrance Day on November 12, 2017. Our nation, the entire Commonwealth, and almost the entire world paused on the week of November 5 to 12 to remember our fallen, reflect on their sacrifice, and turn to God as we seek peace, reconciliation and justice.
ABC has a busy year and fall is one of our busiest seasons. The question has been raised, why would our church digress from our sermon series, our Sunday school programs, etc, to have a Sunday service dedicated to Remembrance Day? There are plenty of services around the city at cenotaphs and local legions, why do we as a church feel the need to add one more?
For most, war is an intangible idea, only seen through the lens of a movie camera or a journalist writing from some far off country. Our closest physical and emotional experience may be the discovery of old family wartime memorabilia, lost in the attic for decades. But even items like photographs, badges, medals, and diaries can feel vague and disconnected from our own lives.
We often take for granted our Canadian values and institutions, our freedom to participate in cultural and political events, and our right to live under a government of our choice. The Canadians who went off to war in distant lands went in the belief that the values and beliefs enjoyed by Canadians were being threatened.
Many members of ABC fought in WWII and some continued in their military careers even after the war was over. When these men and women signed up to fight for their country, these were the values and beliefs that they carried with them. They truly believed that “without freedom there can be no peace and without peace no enduring freedom” (King George VI at the dedication of the National War Memorial, Ottawa, May 21, 1939).
Many people ask why I joined the reserves. Was I seeking some sort of personal fulfillment? I have an excellent career in ministry, I have a family and responsibilities here at home, so what more do I need? To an extent, they are correct, but my choice to join the reserves is so much larger than that.
I joined because I watched on TV horrors being committed across the world that we, not just as Christians but for our humanity’s sake, must take a stand against. Like many of you, I was glued to my television set as our capital was attacked three years ago, and in grief watched, through an intangible TV lens, the funeral for Cpl Nathan Cirillo.
I know that as a reservist I will most likely never get the chance to directly combat the Islamic State or symbols of terror in our world, nor will I anytime soon be in a leadership position in our armed forces that can have a significant effect on their culture and principles; I joined because I recognized that the solution is so much bigger than me. I joined because I believe that the principles and ideas that so many members of our congregation were willing to die for in WWII are still worth fighting for today.
By remembering their service and sacrifice, we recognize the tradition of freedom these men and women fought to preserve. They believed that their actions then would make a significant difference to the future. But… it is up to us. For all those who perished in war, it is up to us to ensure that their dream of peace is realized. I want to do my part by serving my country in the Canadian Armed Forces.
But I’m not saying everyone should join the army. What I am saying is that this is why Agincourt Baptist Church will continue to pause and digress from our regular scheduled services every year to remember. On Remembrance Day we acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who served their country, and acknowledge our responsibility to work for the peace they fought hard to achieve. That is a responsibility that Agincourt Baptist Church takes very seriously.
– Pastor Matt Sampson