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Viewpoint from Bishop Jonathan Meyrick 05/12/2014 

JONATHAN MEYRICKRt Rev Jonathan Meyrick
Bishop of Lynn

War and Peace

Not surprisingly, this year has seen a greater than usual focus on Remembrance. From the beginning of August onwards, the centenary of the Great War has been all around us. The three bishops of Norwich Diocese have offered to come to War Memorial events whenever local communities have wanted to make them. A number have seen re-dedications following restoration work. I had a memorable day in Walsingham Group of churches, making a pilgrimage around eight Memorial sites with the Vicar and a number of his parishioners

dove leftOn Remembrance Sunday itself I rededicated two Memorials and finished with a remarkable scene at one of them. The restored and re-sited Memorial included a Memorial to a young man who died in Afghanistan in 2007 and his parents and sisters were due to join us for the service. Sadly, they were held up in traffic journeying up from Essex, and didn’t get there till after most people had left

A number of us had waited as we knew they were still on the way, including a former head of the British Army who had kindly agreed to act as my chaplain for the day – which made the afternoon extraordinary enough in itself! We then had a separate service just with that family remembering their boy. I found it particularly moving

Not least because, in the year that had finally seen this last wave of hostilities in Afghanistan involving us come to an end, here was a stark reminder of the continuing casualties of war, 100 years on from the War to End All Wars as some called it at the time. “When will they ever learn?” goes the song. A good question!

Dove rightThen on November 1 1th itself, I was in the villages of Corpusty and Saxthorpe where a higher percentage of the male population was killed in the Great War than any other Norfolk village: 38 out of a population of less than 600. The school there has played a major part in putting together a remarkable exhibition and book. In it, one of the children wrote: “Happily I don’t have to fight. I can go out now and play in the Autumn sun and sleep soundly in my bed tonight”

That our children can do so is part of what was enabled by the sacrifices of those who gave their lives. Remembering them is part of what we can give back. But even more important is a renewed determination and commitment to work for the reality of peace across our world. We are about to rejoice yet again in the birth of the one we call the Prince of Peace. He told us we would be blessed in seeking to make peace. The call to do so is with us still, at every level: international, national and within every community we are part of – and indeed even within ourselves

May this Christmas be a time of a renewed sense of the Peace the Christ child can bring for us all