“Greater love has no-one than this,
to lay down one’s life
for one’s friends.”
John – 15: 13
At the 11th hour, on Remembrance Sunday 2022, the UK fell silent to remember all those who have lost their lives in armed conflicts. The congregation at St. James’ Stalmine, joined the nation in prayer and reflection, observing the two minute silence following a poignant cornet sounding ‘The Last Post’.
Wreaths were laid at the War Memorial on behalf of the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force, the Women’s Institute, the National Coast Watch, the Parish Council, the British Legion, the Nursing Services and the Uniformed Organisations. Fluttering poppy petals fell from the church balcony, a visual reminder of the countless lives lost in war.
Familiar words resounded throughout the Communion Service, challenging our understanding of what love means: the supreme love Jesus has for each of us, laying down His life, that we might have eternal life, the love demonstrated by all those who paid the ultimate price, and lost their lives through conflict and the love we are encouraged to show on a daily basis in our Christian lives.
Today, we particularly paid tribute to a young Preesall man, Private Richard Luke Hornby, who was baptised at St. James’ church Stalmine, on 13th August 1896. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment, part of the Manchester Brigade of the East Lancashire Division. Luke was assigned to the 16th Battalion and was evacuated from Gallipoli to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal before moving to France and being involved in actions on the Western Front. Aged only 21, he was killed on 31st July, 1917 during an assault towards the infamous Menin Road.
His untimely death, like millions more, resonates through the words of Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae who wrote the much quoted poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’, having presided over the funeral of his fellow soldier and friend.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The youngsters enjoyed their time in Sunday Club during part of the service. They listened to a story, reflected on how important it is to remember things and people and made some beautiful poppy posters before returning in time for Communion. Meanwhile, the Uniformed Organisations carried out their flag duties with dignity and listened carefully throughout the service.
The young, the elderly and all those in between committed themselves to remembering all those who have lost their lives in conflict.
“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
Laurence Binyon – published on 21st September 1914