“I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah”
From Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
These words drift into my mind every year around Remembrance Day. They are a sombre prayer on a day that should never be jingoistic.
It is a good thing to remember the war dead. It is not such a good thing when that becomes an excuse to wave flags in the face of the vanquished.
It is a day to remember those who, caught up in war, lost their lives because humanity, in all our progress, intelligence and advancement, could not work out ways to live together 2000 years after Christ.
It is a day to remember the horrific way in which 1,000,000 soldiers were killed or injured at The Battle Of The Somme in 1916. There were 3,500 Irish deaths in that battle, almost exactly the same number as were killed in the recent Troubles.
It is a day to remember the wars that still rage, the soldiers who still put their lives on the line and the refugees who run from the horror of the war today.
It is a day to pray that we might learn from our wars. That we might not send our youth into such horrors again. And yet we do…
It is a day to ask what they fought for and, in our poppy wearing, our moments of silence, our gatherings around cenotaphs, are we honouring the dead we remember by making the better world that they gave their lives for.
It is a day to listen to Jeff Buckley’s poignant and beautiful version of Hallelujah and shed a tear for the cold and broken hallelujah that our remembering invokes.
It is a day to remember the words of Jesus…
LUKE 6 - 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.