When Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, returned from Munich in September 1938 with a worthless piece of paper signed by Hitler in his hand he declared to a relieved British public that he had achieved, “peace in our time.” In a speech in the House of Commons, Christopher Mayhew, an MP at the time and like Churchill a strong opponent of appeasement, referring to Chamberlain’s agreement with Hitler called it, “the peace that passeth all understanding!!”
Sadly history tells us that Chamberlain did not achieve peace and a year after his abortive trip to Munich this country was at war with the Nazis. Although Christopher Mayhew in his parliamentary speech was being sarcastic about the then government’s appeasement policy, many a true word is spoken in jest!! It was no less a brain than Albert Einstein (1879-1955) who observed,
“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
As Remembrance Sunday approaches we pray for a dawning of understanding among warring peoples, between differing ideologies and hostile nations. At the same time we remember with profound gratitude the brave members of our Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of freedom. May we never take what they did for us for granted and may we live in such a way that we help to build a society worthy of them and the cause for which they gave their lives.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning – we will remember them.”
After the poignant sadness of Remembrance Sunday and amidst the continuing areas of tension and violence in the world, the last Sunday of November sees the beginning of the season of Advent with its wonderful message of hope. Let us remind ourselves of God’s reassuring promise, spoken by the prophet Micah, as he too looked out on a troubled world in his day but saw beyond the ensuing chaos to the coming of a Saviour – the Prince of Peace.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, although you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord, his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace.” (Micah 3:2-5)