Yesterday's service to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of WWI at the Church of the Good Shepherd was very powerful and very moving. As we remembered the men from our congregation who did not return from that conflict and heard their biographies, they became real to us. We heard the names of their parents, wives and where they lived and someone commented that they had stood and looked at the same stained glass and altar that we do. Murrayfield sent her sons to war and our congregation prayed for them; yesterday it felt very much that we were standing in the shoes of our forebears in the congregation.For myself, I was also very aware of the part the members of the Commonwealth (then the Empire) played in that conflict in support of Britain. Having been at the Commonwealth Games the night before and enjoying the company of people from around the globe I was struck very much by the sacrifice made by those countires in support of Britain - support we sometimes forget. Included in yesterday's servcie was the poem below and I think it says it all:
‘The Gift of India’ by Daljit Nagra
Is there ought you need that my hands withhold,
Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold?
Lo! I have flung to the East and the West
Priceless treasures torn from my breast,
And yielded the sons of my stricken womb
To the drum-beats of the duty, the sabres of doom.
Gathered like pearls in their alien graves
Silent they sleep by the Persian waves,
Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands,
They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands,
hey are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance
On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France
Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep
Or compass the woe of the watch I keep?
Or the pride that thrills thro’ my heart’s desire
And the hope that comforts the anguish of prayer?
And the far sad glorious vision I see
Of the torn red banners of victory?
when the terror and tumult of hate shall cease
And life be refashioned on anvils of peace,
And your love shall offer memorial thanks
To the comrades who fought on the dauntless ranks,
And you honour the deeds of the dauntless ones,
Remember the blood of my martyred sons!Lest we forget any who made the ultimate sacrifice. Lest we forget.
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