11 a.m. on 11/11
In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The “war to end all wars” was over.
The first Armistice Day was held in 1919 and it was not until later that it became known as Remembrance Day in the U.K., Canada and Australia, and Veterans’ Day here in the U.S. On Nov. 11, we now remember all those men and women who have died as a result of war.
Throughout the world, the poppy is associated with the remembrance of those who died that we may be free. Flanders, the western part of Belgium, saw some of the most concentrated and bloodiest fighting of the First World War. Where once there were homes and farms, there was a sea of mud. Only one other living thing survived. The poppy, known for flowering each year, brought life, hope, color and reassurance to those still fighting. Poppy seeds scatter in the wind each year and can lay dormant in the ground for years without germinating, waiting for the ground to be disturbed before coming to life.
Every year on the Saturday closest to Nov. 11, there is a remembrance festival held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, organized by the Royal British Legion. In front of members of the British royal family, different units from the armed forces parade their standard. After a service and during the playing of the taps, poppy petals rain down from the ceiling, thousands and thousands, millions and millions, each petal giving us a visual reminder of those who had died fighting in war.
Let us then, as Christians, in our remembrance of these sacrifices, pray for a coming of God’s kingdom in this world such that war is no longer necessary because the peace of Christ is fully realized. “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)
Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer, p.816