High River United Church of High River, Alberta


Remembrance Day Address, High River 2017

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November 11, 2017


Good morning everyone.  I invite you to hear these words from poet and writer, Susan Bentall Boersma:


There is a yearning

 in hearts weighed down by ancient grief

 and in centuries of sorrow.

 There is a yearning

 in hearts that in the darkness hide

 and in the shades of death abide,

 a yearning for tomorrow.


Captured in the ritual of today’s ceremony of remembering and silence, there is a yearning.  There is a yearning for an end to strife and violence and needless suffering.  There is a yearning for right relationships and justice amongst all peoples.  There is a yearning for peace and reconciliation; for maturity of mind accompanied by caring, wise and responsible leadership.  There is a yearning for the safe expression of our tears.  There is a yearning for tomorrow—a tomorrow embraced by hope and healing—that human beings will arrive at a moment in time when we don’t have to battle each other and suffer unimaginable losses in our wake of arrogance, singlemindedness, selfishness, or lack of empathy.  There is a yearning for that day when human beings finally figure out there is no them or us.  We are all human beings—one no more or less significant than the other—each with the capacity to choose how we shall live.  These choices are at times, exceptionally complicated.  We need to draw on history, experience, tradition, wisdom and our faith in order to make our best decisions.  There is a yearning.


On this day every year, I record, then watch the ceremonies from Ottawa and attend my local Remembrance Day service.  It’s a decision I make because on this day, I know I need to sit and reflect and hopefully, capture a wider vision that inspires me to be a wiser human being, a more compassionate leader and a thoughtful local citizen.   This day serves to remind me that I and we together are called to serve a much wider host of needs than those of just our own.  This day reminds me that we long for the cessation of behaviours and actions that divide, dehumanize, and perpetuate conflict, fear, separation, oppression and loss of life. 


This day reminds me to give pause and to offer gratitude for those who in the past and in the present place themselves in harm’s way in order to preserve peace, protect the vulnerable and counter violence often resulting in personal injury, post-trauma disorders or even death.  I choose to be here because there is a yearning.


We yearn to abide faithfully by our spiritual traditions which provide us with sources of wisdom and healing, courage and compassion so that we will continue creating a world where peace can live.  As I listen to my neighbours who represent many of the world’s spiritual traditions I hear a common yearning for peace.  The sacred writings of my own tradition including today’s reading from the prophet Isaiah are filled with such a yearning:


  I will appoint Peace as your overseer and

 Righteousness as your taskmaster.     

 Violence shall no more be

 heard in your land,

 devastation or destruction within your borders;

 you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. (Is.60:17a-18)


Today, we gather as a community of people from a diversity of backgrounds to remember, to pray, and to provide our best for one another and especially for the children and youth in our care who receive from us, the significance of this day.   There is a yearning.


In the silence held by our prayers, love and gratitude; In our remembering today there is a yearning—a yearning for the sunrise… that waking moment when touched by morning light we dare to try again, to love again, to be reconciled again, to trust God again.  In our remembering, there is a yearning for tomorrow.  We will remember them.


Rev. David Robertson OM, Hon.B.A., M.Div.

Ministry Staff, High River United Church

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