Open Forum

Reflection

In 1643 Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the Parliamentary forces in the English civil war, ordered the printing of a little book known as the Souldiers Bible. It had just 16 pages, which contained some 150 verse quotations from the Geneva Bible, all related to war (all but four of them from the Old Testament). They were intended to uphold the morale of Cromwell’s soldiers, in line with his view that “I know nothing that will give like courage and confidence as the knowledge of God in Christ will”. The verses were grouped under headings which were also admonitions to the soldiers using the little book, including one which reminded them that “A Souldier must consider that sometimes Gods people have the worst in battel as well as Gods enemies”. In times of defeat, as well as in times of victory and glory, Cromwell’s soldiers had something from which to take comfort.
        Three and a half centuries later, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in a sermon preached on the 90th Remembrance Day in 2008, told his listeners that “glory, real heroism, had a great deal more to do with endurance, loyalty, and the daily struggle to retain integrity and humanity in the midst of unspeakably awful conditions. … . From the very beginning of the Christian faith, glory has been re-defined. Instead of being a reputation won by aggression and success, glory has been understood as that radiance of truth that can shine out in the middle of suffering and even of failure.
        “‘The glory of God’, said one of the earliest Christian theologians, ‘is a human being fully alive’, and that is a very different definition of glory from the reputation won by being a successful aggressor or even a successful defender. Glory is life, integrity, humanity and wholeness. And if we’re aware of that then in both peace and in war, glory will be something deeper and more complex, but more lasting and more true than some of the definitions of glory that those who love war would like us to cling to”.                                                                                   – Rev.Sue

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