He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)
The following is from my journal last Sunday – Armistice Day, November 11, 2018.
I am onboard the Queen Mary 2 as we slowly make our way to the dock in New York. We will disembark and head to the airport to return home. Today is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. I am watching the anniversary event in Paris. Seventy global leaders have gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 1918 WWI Armistice. On the televised coverage of the event young people are reading letters and diary entries from those who were just getting the news that the war was finally over. The war that was supposed to end all wars had finally come to an end. Armistice Day is certainly worthy of our attention.
Global Leaders Remembering Together
The cameras scan the seventy world leaders gathered. I see German Chancellor Angela Markel seated between French President Emmanuel Macron and the U.S. President Donald Trump. Periodically violins play somber music. It is a moving international event for me, all the more since I’ve spent the week surrounded by people from dozens of nations.
Meanwhile, I have used this weeklong Atlantic crossing to read about another crossing 398 years ago. A hundred and two passengers consisting of Pilgrims and other colonists set sail for the New World on September 6, 1620. The Mayflower followed approximately the same course our Queen Mary 2 has. Our ship is a state of the art ship built for both efficiency and comfort. We experienced some rough seas, but our ship stayed steady through it, with only mild pitching.
Sailing the Atlantic in 1620 aboard the Mayflower
The passengers on the 1620 crossing were in a small, worn wooden ship that made the crossing miserable on a good day. Many of their sixty-six days were far from good. Some were life threatening. The Mayflower anchored on this date in the harbor of what is now Provincetown, MA. A month later they sailed the short distance across Cape Cod Bay where they finally got to work establishing Plimouth Plantation.
In addition to sharing the November 11 date, Armistice Day and the Mayflower event also have in common that they are both about people seeking peace. The Pilgrims wanted to worship differently than the Established church in England at the time. That was reason enough for them to be fined, jailed, and even executed as traitors. Three hundred years later over 10 million military personnel plus millions more civilian lives were lost in the war that did not end all wars.
Small Signs of Hope
Only a couple of weeks ago people were killed as they gathered for worship at Tree of Life in Pittsburg. They join a growing list of people who enter a sanctuary to worship and exit in body bags. Thousands of veterans come home from their tours maimed physically and/or mentally. Are humans capable of living together in peace? We seem to prefer power and privilege over justice, mercy and letting people walk humbly with God in their own way.
I do see signs of hope. I see an increasing diversity among our elected leaders. As a result of the recent midterm elections, government is starting to look more like the rest of the country. It is a sign of hope to see German Chancellor Angela Merkel seated between the presidents of the United States and France. What a difference a century makes.
November 11, 2018. Armistice Day. A day of hope. I hope we can learn from the past and work together, in spite of our differences, for a more peaceful future. I hope we can create and sustain communities that promote justice, embrace mercy, and truly let people worship in their own way. May we turn our weapons of war into tools for construction and cultivation.
To all who have served or have lost loved ones who have served, may we never forget the sacrifices you have made for us all.