Globally, the 11th of November is a day that is etched in the minds of many, though perhaps does little to jog the memories in others. Armistice Day marks the end of the Great War, and this year marked the centenary of the end of what was an abhorrent and destructive war. Churches throughout our diocese joined in the nationwide commemorations, replaying the “roaring chorus” of noise and jubilation that celebrated the end of the carnage in 1918.
In Raetihi, the Ruapehu Parish gathered together with the local RSA for a special commemoration. “Bunting was erected in the church foyer, the brass candle sticks were given an extra polish, floral decorations in red, white and blue adorned prominent places and a New Zealand flag was hung in front of the altar,” says Alison Seifert, the Bishop’s Warden in Charge.
A member of the RSA and a parishioner, retired Baptist minister Rev. Grahame Craggs spoke of the terrible loss felt by so many families. He told of his grandfather’s three brothers all killed in 1914, and how his grandfather went on to fight in the Third Afghan-Anglo War in 1919; and of the devastating effect this had on their father, his great-grandfather. Grahame spoke also of the tragedy of all wars and the futility of fighting felt by so many.
Most importantly Grahame gave hope to those present. He spoke of how Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice and died to save us all. He reminded everyone that Jesus offered a path to follow that would bring peace to all who chose to do so.
At 11am, congregations joined in the national two minutes of silence, wreathes were laid, and then worshippers found ways to make the most amount of noise possible! This “roaring chorus” was a nationwide initiative to re-enact the jubilation that erupted in our communities at the announcement of the end of war.
At the Cathedral, the congregation headed outside to listen to the 100 gun salute on the waterfront, whilst in Johnsonville the parishioners headed out on the hilltop, to the sounds of the St John’s Church bell ringing, to make as much noise as possible with their rattles, shakers and assorted percussive instruments!
100 years on, we continue to lament the extent of humanity’s destruction toward one another, and we strive in prayer and deed to bring the peace of Jesus Christ to our world, a peace which is as sorely in need as it was throughout our world’s darkest moments.