TEXTS: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 and Psalm 78:1-7


Give ear, O my people, to my law:
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable:
I will utter dark sayings of old:

which we have heard and known,
and our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

For he established a testimony in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers,
that they should make them known to their children:
that the generation to come might know them,
even the children which should be born;
who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments … (Psalm 78:1-7)

Both of our scripture readings for today are linked by a common theme: the theme of telling the story and—in the telling of the story—recommitting oneself to the principles and the personalities revealed in the story.

The story we are to tell is, of course, the story of our God and how he has been faithful to us as a people.

It is in remembering and telling the story that we discover who we are and the meaning of our lives. It is in recalling the past that we may best see our way into the future. Through remembering what happened and why it happened, we discover the principles and the guidelines by which our lives should be governed.

Telling the story. Recommitting ourselves. Recalling the past. Looking to the future. That is, of course, what Remembrance Day is all about. And as I began thinking about a message for today, it occurred to me that someone had already done a better job of it than I ever could.

So, today, instead of the usual blog, I’m going to do something different. I’m sure we all know John McCrae’s timeless poem, “In Flanders Fields.”  Now, I want to show you another poem. John Mitchell wrote it. It’s called “Reply to Flanders Fields.”

Reply to Flanders Fields by John Mitchell

Oh! Sleep in peace where poppies grow;
The torch your falling hands let go
Was caught by us, again held high,
A beacon light in Flanders sky
That dims the stars to those below.
You are our dead, you held the foe,
And ere the poppies cease to blow,
We’ll prove our faith in you who lie
In Flanders Fields.

Oh! Rest in peace, we quickly go
To you who bravely died, and know
In other fields was heard the cry,
For freedom’s cause, of you who lie,
So still asleep where poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

As in rumbling sound, to and fro,
The lightning flashes, sky aglow,
The mighty hosts appear, and high
Above the din of battle cry,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below,
Are fearless hearts who fight the foe,
And guard the place where poppies grow.
Oh! Sleep in peace, all you who lie
In Flanders Fields.

And still the poppies gently blow,
Between the crosses, row on row.
The larks, still bravely soaring high,
Are singing now their lullaby
To you who sleep where poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.



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