Yesterday was Veteran’s Day in the U.S., and Remembrance Day in Canada — both days of commemoration set aside by the respective national governments to honor the service of those in the armed forces, past and present.
In a recent post at his blog, The Meeting House teaching pastor Bruxy Cavey asks the question, “How do pacifists relate to Remembrance Day / Veterans Day?” Here’s a taste of the post:
Occasionally, I’m asked if a peace church like ours that promotes non-violent enemy love should pause to commemorate Remembrance Day or if individual Christ-followers should wear poppies and participate in Remembrance Day events.
Pacifists, like anyone, have differing opinions – there is no one right answer. But my approach, and our approach at The Meeting House, has always been to use Remembrance Day as an opportunity to do just that – remember.
Memory can be a powerful motivator to work for peace. Even though we may have ideological differences with those who would fight in a war, and even though we may not honour their willingness to KILL for a cause, we still honour and respect their willingness to DIE for a cause. On that point we are in full alignment with others who participate in Remembrance Day events.
Read the whole post here.
An important message for Brethren in Christ people on both sides of the 49th Parallel.
11 responses to ““We Will Remember””
Thanks for posting this. Yesterday in our worship service, we had a moment of “remembrance” that I found uncomfortable as a pacifist, so this is a helpful perspective.
Thank you for posting this thoughtful piece from Bruxy. I wish the reference to Veteran’s/Remembrance Day yesterday at my church would have been as nuanced.
Rebekah & Harriet: Very sad to hear of a less-than-nuanced moment of remembrance at your Sunday morning worship service. Certainly not what I would have expected at Grantham BIC. I’m glad you found this post helpful nonetheless.
I think what was said in church on Sunday was actually intended to be in the spirit of this post. However, I’m always uncomfortable when there is any hint of “glorification of war,” so I know I can be a little sensitive.
Jeannie and I were at All Souls Langham Place London. The service included an ACT OF REMEMBRANCE. This was introduced with the observation that the gathered congregation represent many nations-some of which have been at war with one another. This is not a nationalistic exercise-rather a time to turn to God.
After a Time of Silence the minister led the congregation in statements of committal to working for peace. The congregation then sang Brian Thomas ‘My peace I leave with you.”
We were glad to join with the congregation in this act.
Beautiful, David. Thanks for sharing.
I have heard some of the best sermons on Peace from our Pastor at Harrisburg BIC Church. Over the years, Woody (Dalton) has given many sensitive and thoughtful Peace Emphasis messages on July 4th weekend and/or Memorial Day weekend. He comes up with many different angles and scripture references, but the Peace Doctrine is clearly passed on.
One year, a veteran in the congregation wanted to donate an American flag to the church, to be displayed up front of course. This man happened to tell Lou Astuto, one of our associate pastors at the time, of his interest in doing this as a memorial to some Viet Nam War buddies. Lou lovingly but firmly told him that our church would not accept or display an American flag. He said that the Church of Christ is world wide, and not to be associated with a certain country or group. Thus unless we displayed all the flags of the world, that to just display the US flag would suggest that our nationalism was side by side with our faith. So the man donated a flower arrangement that Sunday instead.
I am disappointed whenever I see an American flag displayed in a BIC church. Sad to say, one Memorial Day weekend I happened to be at a large BIC church for a Saturday night special service for a missions team send-off. The parking lot was lined with small American flags, the lobby was festooned with red, white and blue bunting, and the auditorium platform was loaded with flags, and red, white and blue draping across the sides and top. They had decorated to prepare for the next day, for Sunday, for a special presentation of patriotic hymns and other nationalistic celebrations. I could hardly believe my eyes. It is one thing to ignore the Peace Doctrine, it is quite another to fully embrace strong nationalistic behavior and display it in a church setting.
Amen, Karen! Thanks for this comment. (I too have appreciated Woody’s peace sermons.)
I am always intrigued by the Christian pacifistic comments, particularly at times of remembrance. All of us enjoy the “peaceful atmosphere” of the American lifestyle, but seem hard pressed to remember those who protected that “peace” for several hundred years. Gibbons, the eighteenth century English historian argued that Christianity created a belief in the mighty Roman Empire that a better life existed after death . . . thus sapping the desire of Christians to sacrifice for the Empire. He believed this attitude was one of the contributing factors to the decline of the mighty empire.
Why not have Christian pacifists serve in non-combatant roles to assist in the preservation of American safety and personal freedoms we all enjoy? I know, Christians and church members do not exist to protect a nation or worldly lifestyle, but isn’t their some compromise that could allow pacifists to contribute something for our protection in times of military stress?
After attending a seminar sponsored by the Christian Holiness Association on the issues of war and peace, church historian Carlton Wittlinger reported the desire of each group (pacifists and non-pacifists) to listen to each other. However, there were sharp disagreements and a complete inability to reconcile the differences between the Sermon on the Mount and Romans 13: 1-7. True to his academic style, Wittlinger ended his report by raising questions concerning the BIC church’s position on church-state relations. Is additional dialogue in order?
I just discovered this blog and I like it already! I appreciated this post especially. I was recently asked to offer a prayer at a Veteran’s Day program hosted by my part-time employer (an assisted living facility for the elderly). I struggled to know how I should proceed – whether to accept or decline and what kind of prayer I could offer that would a) not betray my core convictions concerning the peaceful way of Jesus but also b) not function as a bit of contrarian grandstanding in front of a crowd of people who I knew would not share those convictions. I eventually decided to offer the prayer. As it turns out, the event was not well planned, and I was asked to wing,on the spot, a brief message. I dwelt on a remembrance of the suffering of those who have served in the armed forces and a further remembrance of God’s desire for them, their families, and all people to experience peace. I finished by reading Isaiah’s prophecy concerning that beautiful day when, at long last, the lion and lamb will lie down together. I prayed that all of us would have the faith, hope and love we need to work toward that day until God brings it fully upon us, and that, in the meantime, we would work to heal the wounds which war creates. Afterward I still felt unsure about my role in the program, but reading Bruxy’s words have helped me by showing me another person who, while committed to the peace position, engages with the surrounding culture by remembering the suffering of those who have experienced war first hand. Thanks for the post!