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Preacher: Revd Canon Victoria Johnson, Precentor
Title of Sermon: For your tomorrow, we gave our today
Date/Time: Thursday 7 July 2022/ 11am
‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’ Kohima Epitaph
I want to dwell for a moment on the words of the Kohima Epitaph: For your tomorrow, we gave our today. These seven words might help us understand the connection between past, present and future and the relationship between thanksgiving and remembering, the relationship between war and peace, the relationship between freedom and service, and the relationship between death and life.
For your tomorrow, we gave our today, articulates the voices of the many who gave their own liberty and life in the service of a future that they would never see. They gave everything in hope of a future which would be better for everyone.
On this 78th Anniversary of the battles of Kohima and Imphal, we remember again the service and the sacrifices made in the pursuit of freedom and peace, by both soldier and citizen in that place. We are here because we know that the impact of war lasts for lifetimes, we stand here 78 years after the battle of Kohima knowing the impact that war had on the Naga communities and on the Veterans who came home, and their families and communities. We stand here today knowing the cost of war, and the lives lost. We are here to remember.
We are here 78 years after the battle of Kohima, knowing that war rages again across our world: in Europe, cities are flattened, cultures are destroyed, families broken, lives lost. Man’s inhumanity to man, knows no bounds. We are here living in the very future which was fought for 78 years ago, as new threats cast a brooding shadow over our world. What have we learnt? What might we do today to ensure that the tomorrow of generations to come is peaceful and constructive? How do we continue to remember?
We can be lulled into the idea that remembering, is a passive verb. This is wrong. Remembering is always active and it provokes those who enter into it, into action. To re-member is to rebuild and reconstruct and reform, it is our response to those who gave their today for our tomorrow.
Remembering is more than an exercise of the mind. Remembering has to be made real and physical through our lips and in our lives. Remembering requires something of those who remember. We stand here today to remember, this service being part of that active response, and hopefully the continuation of remembering in our daily lives, the kind of remembering which builds a better tomorrow, from the sacrifices of our today.
In our broken world this ‘remembering’ applies to the sacrifices of our today, which require us even now, to work for peace. The sacrifices of our today might recognise our planet is being shaken by climate change and the effects of that will affect the most vulnerable in our world most severely, including our Naga brothers and sisters. The sacrifices of today, for us, might mean challenging all that is unjust and merciless in our world, the systems and structures which exclude, blame, vilify and persecute others for who they are or what they believe. The sacrifices of our today might mean working, once again, for peace and mercy, not just here at home but throughout our world and on behalf of all peoples.
Ultimately, remembering, in its truest, and most authentic form, is always as act of love. To remember is to love, and to live out that love in whatever way we can, in everything that we think, or speak or do, today, and tomorrow, and for the tomorrows of those yet to come. If called upon, may we be ready to say, to the children of the future, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.
We can only give of our todays through the power of God’s all giving love, which binds all things together: for neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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