Prayer for the Day Script - 10th November 2018
I used to teach in a wonderful boys grammar school. Each year we held a Remembrance service, with beautiful solemn music and readings, the laying of wreaths and the one and only period of absolute silence that happened each academic year. Most poignant was when our senior boys would read the names of their fallen predecessors one by one – and no matter how many times I heard the list, its length always sent a shiver down my spine.
When I arrived in the school, it was culturally normal for the boys to be addressed by surname only. A couple of years into my time there, that anachronistic practice was intentionally changed – and all the boys who had previously been called Smith became Andrew or Chris instead.
But for a long time, when it came to Remembrance Day, we were still reading the names of the dead as they appeared on our memorial boards – with just the initials and surnames. And one day we realized that this was creating distance. The list felt more like abstract history instead of real people from our community. So a colleague did some research, and the following year the full names were read. The impact was powerful. For it became clear that some of the boys in the room had the same names as those who had died. And the sharp reality began to dawn on all of them– it could have been me.
It’s too easy to hear the statistics of war and forget that the numbers represent real lives.
And perhaps the best way to honour the dead is to care for the living.
Lord, every life lost through conflict is a person made in your image. Help us to value human life as you do.