Remembrance is marked in many ways, not least by two minutes of silence.  Silence, because words cannot express the horror of war, the impact of war; silence because we are joined together in stopping, pausing; no one talking, nobody doing, everyone still and silent, even if their thoughts may be all over the place.

Silence instead of guns booming, silence instead of machines and engines, silence the chance to hear the inner screams and tears. We will keep silence together.

The impact of modern war is so destructive – we know it from the trenches and no man’s land of Northern France, and we see it in the shattered villages and towns and cities of Ukraine. In some places the destruction is so total that not even a bird sings, no animal moves.

And in that silence we are asked to remember- to remember a number of rather different things.

To remember those whose lives ended in the World Wars of the last century; to remember that since then too many more have been killed in combat, and many millions more civilians, killed, maimed, brutalised and driven from their homes.

We remember with sorrow the families, including our own, who lost young men, killed in their prime, and the impact on parents and siblings and children.

We remember with admiration their courage, commitment and selflessness, their fulfilment of duty and obedience to commands.

We also remember that war has few victors. This year a family of a young man who served in Afghanistan have said to me how ambivalent he feels about Remembrance – his friends died, but what was it for? Our remembering may well be mixed with rage, lament, despair, even hatred of others. 2 minutes is not enough to remember – and some remember every day and every night, never finding peace, troubled and unable to escape the nightmares, the memories – they wish they might forget, if only for 2 minutes.

This year we also remember what is happening in our world today, in Ukraine, in Yemen, in Ethiopia. We would prefer not to be told, and we would prefer not to know how many have been displaced by violence – in Congo, and so much of Africa, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria etc. And we should not forget the millions living under a repressive and violent regime; in N Korea, the Uighur people of China, the Rohingya, welcome neither in Burma nor Bangladesh, the Palestinians sometimes refugees three times over. So much that it is overwhelming and two minutes is not very much to give as a time of silence and remembering.

This Remembrance let us be still and remember, and let us commit to pray for and work towards a more just, peaceful and equitable world, and where resources are put more into the rehabilitation of the wounded than the weapons that will wound future generations, where swords will become ploughshares and prepare the ground for crops, not devastate it for generations.

Peter Reiss