Church of Scotland takes part in Scottish Government Remembrance service
Published on 10 November 2023
The Church of Scotland has taken part in the Scottish Government's Remembrance Service which included contributors from a range of faiths and groups.
Representatives from the military attended, as well as John-Paul Marks, the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, and the Lord Lyon.
Rev Dr John McPake, who is the Kirk's ecumenical officer, contributed a reflection during the private event saying:
"It was: "The War that will end War", said the writer H.G. Wells of the conflict that engulfed much of the world from 1914-1918. The loss of life and the carnage war had wrought would surely bring humanity to its senses. The experience of such a war would lead to the creation of a new world order in which such a conflict would be impossible. Surely it would be so.
"The history books tell us that it was not so. Within another generation, the world would be engulfed once more in a war even more destructive than the first. This war would visit upon humanity, amongst so many other horrors, the evil of the Holocaust and the initiation of atomic warfare. The war from 1939-1945 proved also not to be the war that would end all wars.
"The history books record that since then, and in so many places, the ravages of war continued. The innocent suffer and there is no peace in the land. Indeed, it is not to the history books of the past that we turn to confirm that this is so. Rather, we turn to our television screens and to our digital devices and there, writ large, we see it before our very eyes. The innocent suffer and there is no peace in the land.
"Our task now, and in this moment, is to Remember. The first Act of Remembrance took place on the 11th of November 1919 at 11am, and as a conscious marking of the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended the 1914-18 conflict. Traditionally, in the act of remembering, the Scriptures sacred to the Christian tradition offer a vision of a different world. A world where swords would be beaten into ploughshares and ‘spears into pruning hooks'. A world where ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more'. This ancient vision offers much for us to reflect upon even, and perhaps especially, in this present generation. Those same Scriptures speak of the commandment to love and of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.' (John 15: 12-13)
"In trying to understand and to make sense of the inordinate loss of life suffered in those conflicts, the words of Scripture speak of love expressed in sacrifice and in self-giving. These words still speak today and may resonate in the hearts of all who long for peace and for the establishing of a world where ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more'."
Other speakers included Charandeep Singh, from Sikhs in Scotland, Susan Douglas-Scott from Celebrate People, and the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government.
A two minutes' silence followed the reflections and then a lament for the fallen with the laying of the Remembrance wreath.