Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘’The Poppy and the Cross: Remembering the Sacrifice’
©November 10, 2013 by Steve Mickelson
BLCF Call to Worship:
Responsive Reading #632 (God’s Redeeming Love – John 3 and 1 John 4r of Prayer); Prayer
Opening Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride
Let us pray…
Tomorrow is November 11, Remembrance Day. A day where most Canadians wear a poppy on their lapel; possibly recite the poem In Flanders Fields; and then at 11AM, observe a moment of silence. For many of us who had a relative or friend who experienced war firsthand, Remembrance Day is a time to acknowledge the sacrifice of men and women who served their country at wartime, including the millions who never survived to celebrate the peace. The phrase lest we forget is spoken, to which the reply is made they will not be forgotten. At the back of this very sanctuary, we have a plaque commemorating the names of those from this church who served in the Second World War.
I read a posting reprinted from a BLOG in the Huffington Post, where a young lady even though her grandfather served in the RCAF in WWII, wrote an article listing the reasons why she refused to wear a poppy on November 11. Some of the reasons for refusing the poppy included: that it was a symbol that glorifies war or that it illustrates how politicians yield to public demands that they wear this blood red symbol of battle.
The article describes how the poppy worn is not a real flower, but a commercially manufactured item, made for corporate profit. In her rant she complains of a message from a Canadian Legion urging to wait to put up Christmas decorations until after November 11. And the author speculates that if Canada were defeated by the Nazi’s that we would still celebrate Christmas, seemingly to imply that Christ, the Prince of Peace, was really a Lord of War that condoned war! There is no mention of instead of honoring many who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms often take for granted.
My father, Harry Mickelson, served in WWII as a medic and military band member. He preferred to recall the funny incidents of the war. But between enlisting in the Rainbow Division of the 42nd Infantry of the US Army reserves in December 1940, then being called to active duty by executive action of FDR in January 1941 in anticipation of USA being drawn to the war, crossing through the battlefields across France and Germany, ending in Austria by 1945, Dad’s remembrance of the horror of war was relegated, according to Mom, to the nightmares he had for years after he married 1946.
Dad had little use for the John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and the host of other actors who glorified a war that they never saw or experienced firsthand. He cared not to join Legion Halls to relive events, though necessary, were often filled with grief and pain. Though Dad did step forward to testify at the trial of Ernst Zündel, who taught that the Holocaust never happened, providing an eyewitness account of the Dachau Concentration Camp as a first responder, along with photo evidence of the camp. It was for this reason he wore a poppy, so not to forget, then ignore, and ultimately deny the real importance of the sacrifice given and end up in idle speculation whether or not a Nazi victory would end Christmas in Canada!
I read a recent statistic that there currently around 3.2 million surviving veterans from World War II, who are passing away at a rate of around 1,100 per day. Soon there will be no witnesses left to refute the claims those who deny the Holocaust or correct those intent in twisting the events of the war. And unfortunately the sacrifices of those solders and the victims of war may evolve to whether we wear a red poppy or white poppy, to sanitize the events and eventually open the way to new despots and new horrific conflicts in a cycle repeated again and again.
In Christian circles, there are movements to sanitize worship, to remove the cross as it is a symbol of the brutality of the crucifixion of Jesus. Yet, as Christians, we are expected to serve the elements of communion to remember the blood and body of Christ given as a sacrifice for all our sins.
We often here in memorial services for those who gave their life in war, a quote from John 15:13 (ESV):
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
But such a quote seems to imply that the Lord approved of war. However, let us read this verse in its full context: John 15:12-17 (ESV):
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
And what does the Lord say about conflict in general? We may find our answer in James 3:13-18 and in Matthew 5:9:
James 3:13-18 (ESV) Wisdom from Above
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Matthew 5:9 (ESV)
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:9 Greek huioi; see Preface
We know from experience, that the sacrifices remembered in ceremonies on November 11, no matter how dear and noble may help to win a battle and a war, but do not put an end to war and conflict which seem to be intertwined in human nature because of sin.
But God did provide a solution to the sinful nature of men and women, which is the underlying root cause of war. God allowed the battle against sin and sin’s progenitor, Satan, by allowing the sacrifice of one innocent man: his only son, Jesus on the cross. And by way of the cross, all who believe and admit to sin; who desire to change to the way of the Lord receive the gift of salvation, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal life. I would like to show a short video to illustrate how we should not forget this sacrifice every day of our lives.
I would now like to present Billy Graham’s message entitled The Cross.
Video from www.findingmyhope.org The Cross
Let us pray…
Benediction (2 Thessalonians 3:16):
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.