St. Paul's Remembers

By Mark Regis, Associate Priest

On Wednesday, November 11 at 10:55 a.m. join us for the laying of the wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice.

Posted on November 4, 2015

On a May Sunday morning in Belgium, 100 years ago, a fierce battle was fought in Ypres during the Great War. Less than 48 hours after it began, over 6,000 Canadian soldiers suffered casualties. Of those, more than 2,000 died. We were a young and small nation then, and by the end of the War an entire generation had been impacted.

During that fight in Ypres, one of the casualties was Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, a popular 22 year-old officer. He left his dugout momentarily only to be killed instantly by a direct hit from a German shell. His friend, Major and Doctor John McCrae was there in the midst of the horror of that battle. McCrae began to write what became a significant Canadian tribute to military service and sacrifice: his poem, In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Like many Canadians, I’ve heard this poem read solemnly at Remembrance Day services and memorials every year of my life. These words endure. I continue to be struck by the way it evokes the staggering depth of sacrifice, the horror of life violently lost, and the resolute commitment to freedom and peace, that so many have made and continue to make on our behalf.

This Remembrance Sunday, join with us to remember the past, to give thanks for the present, and most importantly, worship the God of freedom and peace, who suffered on our behalf and triumphed gloriously in Jesus Christ.