And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

 

Whenever the Royal Navy, an army battalion or the Royal Air Force returns from a tour of duty there is often a happy picture of their home coming in the press.  You see soldiers and sailors running to greet their children and everyone is beaming with pleasure.  The pictures convey that it is a happy reunion and everyone is relieved to be safely home.

 

Sadly it is not always a happy ending for everyone; members of our armed forces do continue to die on duty and the arms that would greet them have nobody to welcome.  Then there are those for whom the strains of separation, on both sides, mean that it is hard to readjust to being a family unit.  There are some sad stories of family breakups when everyone had grown apart and couldn’t understand what either side was feeling.

 

On Remembrance Sunday we give thanks for the safe return of many, but honour the fallen and do something practical to help those bruised by the whole business of serving their country.

 

I hope we also hold out the hope of a better way.  The image of a happy home coming lies at the heart of one of the best stories Our Lord ever told.  He once described how the younger son of a man said that he could not wait until his father was dead for his share of the property; he wanted it now.  His father granted his wish and the son travelled far away and wasted his wealth until he had nothing left.  Eventually he decided that he would return home; he knew his father would never receive him as his son again, but he hoped that he might be taken on as a paid servant.  In fact the father was looking out in the hope of seeing his lost son return.  When he saw him he embraced him, refused to accept any suggestion that he was no longer his son and celebrated his return with a party.

 

Jesus told the story to make the point that however badly we wander from God’s way He does not give up on us.  He is waiting for us to return to His way.  In one of our popular remembrance hymns we do remember the importance of loyalty to our country, but then the last verse trumps it by saying that embracing God’s ways is even better.

 

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,

Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;

We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;

Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;

And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,

And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

 

Posted By: valerie

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