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Memorial Day

Because I spent 42 years in military service, people will sometimes reach out to me on Memorial Day weekend to say, “Thank you for your service.” I always accept such kindness, but I also remind people that Memorial Day is really about those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. While we will not have a service at St John’s on Monday, we will include a brief ceremony as part of our Sunday service to honor those who died in the defense of our nation. I also encourage you to observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3.00 p.m. on Monday. You can read the President’s Memorial Day Proclamation here.



I often take a few moments around Memorial Day and read some of the great war poets. One of my favorites is Wilfred Owen who was killed in action on 4 November 1918 during the of the Sambre—Oise Canal, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day (November 11) as the bells of Shrewsbury rang in celebration.


Over the course of the war and its horrors, Wilfred Owen had begun to question traditional religion. This is reflected in his poetry. In The End, he writes:


Shall Life renew these bodies? Of a truth All death will he annul, all tears assuage?


Despite the questioning tone of this poem, Susan Owen, chose part of this verse to be inscribed on Wildred’s gravestone. It removes the question, reading: “Shall life renew these bodies? Of a truth all death he will annul.”


Perhaps it is good to question amid suffering. But as for me, I welcome the removal of the question mark because I believe in the mystery of faith – Christ has died, Christ is Risen, and Christ will come again. Truly, all death he will annul!


Jerry+

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