We are wise enough to know now that the battles our grandparents fought did not end at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when the artillery fell silent on the Western Front. The battles against tyranny and isolation and prejudice and inequality continue. The search for purpose and meaning and love continues still. Those battles need to be set in an eternal perspective. They recur in different ways in each generation.
Paul writes of that new and eternal perspective which flows from one person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God has reconciled us to himself through Christ. The destiny of humankind is not fragmentation and war but common purpose and unity and a new creation. We are part of this bigger story. God has now entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. It is our mission, in every generation, to work for peace and freedom and justice with the same commitment shown by the generation who fought the Great War.
As we look back one hundred years it is possible to see in our nation then a greater common purpose than we see today. We are not blind to the weaknesses of the war generation nor to the mistakes that were made. But we do see a commitment to a common cause, a confidence in the values of peace and truth and the common good, a desire to see the world reconciled and a willingness to face together the great challenges of the age.
Such common cause today defeats us. We are finding it difficult as a nation even to rethink and reimagine our relationship with Europe in a way that brings unity and common purpose. We grow more not less fragmented along lines of race and religion and politics and wealth. Our common discourse all too easily admits the language of hate and violence.