Today is November 11th: Remembrance Day. It was at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that Germans and Allies signed an armistice (peace) agreement in a railway car in Compiègne Forest in northern France, thus signaling the end of the First World War.
We set aside November 11 to remember those who sacrificed so much in times of war for the freedom of our country. 620,000 Canadians served in World War I, another 1.1 million Canadians served our country in World War II. Over 100,000 Canadian soldiers were killed while serving in those two major wars, while fighting for our country. Since 1921, Canadians have worn poppies as a symbol of remembrance.
For many or most of us war seems like a very distant and foreign thing. Nobody in my family has died in war. Nobody in my family has gone to war. In Canada, we largely live in a time of peace and freedom. So it’s easy to forget the great sacrifices that have been made to ensure our freedom. I’m thankful for those who risked and gave their lives to protect Canada, ensure our freedom and to fight oppression. I’m proud to be a Canadian.
Remembrance Day also reminds me of another remembrance. The poppy is a symbol of our remembrance of those who sacrificed for us, so to the Lord’s Supper is a symbol of our remembrance of him who sacrificed himself for us. Jesus said “this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (I Cor 11:24). Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is an act of remembrance for the sacrifice given for us. We even speak these words to each other as we celebrate. It’s a joy to remind each other that Jesus gave his body and poured out his blood for you. It’s not that the bread and wine actually become Jesus’ body and blood, but we quote Jesus’ words to each other to remind each other of Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice for you.
With distance it becomes easy to forget the sacrifices made for us. As time passes, so does our remembrance. And so we need to be intentional about remembering. For Remembrance Day I wear a poppy so that I don’t forget that the peace and freedom we enjoy came through the shedding of blood.
As a church we celebrate the Lord’s Supper often so that we never forget that we have reconciliation with God and freedom from sin, only because of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ in our place. As the apostle Paul wrote, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (I Cor 6:19-20). May we not forget.