On Sunday 11 November, at 12:30pm, the bell of the St Peters chapel will be rung for two whole minutes. This is part of an international observance for the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. This armistice came into effect on 11 November 1918. The 9:00am service on Sunday will also have an armistice theme, in acknowledgement of this anniversary.

It is not always easy to know how to treat war observances. On the one hand, many people are reluctant to glorify war. This is fair enough, because wars are so often ugly affairs. They bring hardship and widespread suffering to soldiers, civilians, property, nations, even the natural environment.

And, yet, just as war should not be glorified, it can’t be ignored. Whether we like it or not, the world as we know it has been shaped by war. How many families have lost members to war? How many people have come to Australia over the years because they were displaced by war? How many individual lives bear the scars of war in their various forms?

Even more importantly, by remembering the past, we are better placed to face the future. When we actively remember times of war, it can also help us to be thankful for the period of unprecedented peace we are enjoying now, so that we can recognise it as a gift, and strive to preserve it.

It also helps us remember that we have a God who promises to work for peace in the midst of human aggression and violence. Psalm 46:9–11 gives us a powerful picture of God’s desire for peace:

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.’
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

God bless.

Pastor Matthias Prenzler, St Peters Lutheran Church