On Remembrance Sunday (13 November), at St. Alban’s British Orthodox Church in Chatham, Abba Seraphim preached on the significance of this national commemoration. Whilst observing that the church had its own seasons for commemorating the Faithful Departed, he noted that today was a national commemoration of those who had given their lives in the service of their country.
“There are those who feel that the church should have no part with the armed forces, but should be absolutely detached as an instrument of peace, yet we owe a great debt to those who place their own lives at risk in order to protect their fellows, whether they serve in the armed forces, the police service or as firemen. Sadly, the reality of a fallen world is that the forces of darkness are always ready to exploit the weak and vulnerable, and it is one of the first duties of governments to protect their citizens and ensure their security. Of course, there are moral issues about the use of force and we know that, like all things, it can be misused; but the record of our armed services stands high in the responsible use of military force and is essentially to protect life, not to take it. My own knowledge of those in our armed services, especially those with higher authority, is that they possess a profound respect for the sanctity of life, a deep awareness of the huge responsibilities they exercise and a heartfelt reluctance to kill or injure, if other options are available to them.
In remembering those who gave their lives in defence of our freedoms and peaceful way of life, we owe them an immense debt of gratitude. We live in troubled times and the years of total peace have been few. Our commemoration begins with our own servicemen, many of whom lost their lives and are buried in foreign lands, but we also hold before God those in every nation who have fought righteously and we implore a merciful and loving Saviour to grant their souls eternal rest and to guide us into the ways of peace.”
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy a full church, representing every generation, and holding candles of remembrance, joined in the memorial prayers and singing “Memory Eternal!”