By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Recently my wife Janice and I had the privilege of attending a dance at a Legion. For many years, we have worn a poppy each November 11th. It helps us remember and reflect on the great sacrifices by so many that we might be free. It is so easy to take freedom and security for granted. Freedom and democracy are a precious gift from God that must never be treated lightly. We wear a poppy ‘lest we forget’.
Each November 11th, we have the privilege of remembering and giving thanks for those who served in the Armed Services. My 93-year-old father served for four years during World War II in the Air Force. My Uncle Reg served in the Army. My other Uncle, Don, served in the Navy. Service is a great privilege. Service breaks through our selfishness. It is so easy to let life become all about ourselves. Service expresses the truth that other-centeredness keeps us healthy. When my great uncle Harry died while serving in World War I, a kind chaplain sent the following note to my grandmother:
“Dear Miss Williams, I dare say you have heard the sad news of the death of your brother Private H.C.W. Williams who was killed in action on the morning of November 6th. He did not suffer as death was instantaneous. No doubt you will feel the loss of your dear brother very much as it is hard to part with those we love; but it is a consolation to know he did his duty faithfully and died in a righteous cause. He gave his life for others. And ‘greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ I pray that God will comfort you in your sad bereavement and may you find his grace sufficient in your hour of need. Cast your cares on the Lord and he shall sustain you. With Deepest Sympathy, Yours sincerely, Alex Ketterson, Chaplain 29th Canadians, B.E.F.”
My Grandmother (whom we called Nana) held on to this deeply comforting note. She sadly lost both of her brothers within one year during WW1. For my grandmother, doing one’s duty was deeply important. Each of us have the duty to serve one another, not just on Remembrance Day but every day of the year. Serving one another is at the heart of true love. As Chaplain Ketterson said, quoting Jesus, there is no greater love than laying down your life for others.
Martin Luther King memorably said: “Anyone can be great because anyone can serve.” King laid down his life for the sake of racial reconciliation and equality. One of my heroes, E. Stanley Jones, taught that the future belongs to those who belong to others in loving service. What if our lives became known for loving service? My prayer for those reading this article is that we might joyfully commit ourselves to the duty of serving one another, of laying down our lives that others might thrive.
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
-an article for the November 2017 Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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