Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 8th November 2020.
There are two kinds of courage – physical and moral. Physical courage is about bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, danger, uncertainty or even risk of death. Moral courage is the ability to do what is right in the face of opposition, shame, discouragement, or personal loss.
Today is Remembrance Sunday, when we remember the physical courage of all those British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts, who faced hardships and laid down their lives in the pursuit of an end to conflict. Their courage reflected that well known passage from St. John’s Gospel: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, King James Version)
Courage is, essentially, borne out of love and a conviction of what is right, what one feels to be one’s duty to do. It is not selfish. It is about looking fear in the face and pressing on regardless. Today we remember all those who did just that in the service of their country, regardless of the possible consequences.
Sadly, today many Remembrance Sunday services throughout the country have been cancelled, due to the lockdown restrictions imposed because of the Covid virus. Many bugles will remain silent. Many medals, the reminders of war service, the badges of courage, which would normally be worn by the survivors of conflict or by the children of those who did not survive, will not be seen. They will remain in boxes and drawers until such time as we are once more able to publicly honour the men and women of courage who made the ultimate sacrifice. Processions and church services have been cancelled. But I can imagine that many poppy wreaths will still appear at outside war memorials throughout the land, though not perhaps at as many war memorials inside church buildings as would normally be the case. Nevertheless, the courageous lost in conflict will not be forgotten. In whatever ways we can find to show our gratitude to the fallen, ‘We will remember them’.
Let us also remember today all those who have survived wars, but whose lives have been severely changed by physical or mental suffering. We also owe them a debt of gratitude.
Today we fight a war of a different kind, against a virus that has no respect for human life. It has taken thousands of lives already and has affected thousands more who have survived it. Perhaps today we can also remember the ‘soldiers’ of the National Health Service, who are fighting a war for those suffering from the virus and are daily having the courage to place their own health and welfare in danger in order to care for those who are suffering.
Courage is not only about warfare or about risking one’s own wellbeing for others. Courage can be about grappling with one’s own personal fears. For example, I am sure that we have all known someone who has faced serious illness and/or the prospect of death with quiet courage and dignity. Somehow, amongst all they had need to be fearful of, they managed to find a sense of peace in the face of adversity. Having faith in a God who cares can help.
I mentioned at the beginning moral courage. Courage can be about standing up for what you believe in, having the courage of your own convictions. I receive a lot of news by email about the persecuted Christian church throughout the world. There isn’t a week goes by without me reading about people who have been attacked and severely injured or killed because they refused to renounce their Christian faith. That takes courage.
So today let us remember all those whose courage has been an example to others – those who gave their lives in conflict, those who put themselves at risk to support others, and those who, by their examples of personal courage in the face of adversity, give us encouragement and hope that we can all conquer our fears, if we put our mind to it and face our fears head-on.
If you have any fears or challenges in your life, I pray that God may give you the confidence and courage to face those fears and challenges and bring you comfort, healing and peace. Amen.