Near the main entrance of Westminster Abbey lies the grave of the Unknown Warrior. Brought from the battlefield of the Western Front this unknown soldier represents the countless thousands who gave their lives in the First World War. His body was laid to rest on 11th November 1920 in the presence of the Royal Family and Ministers of State. Also in attendance were over one hundred women, chosen because they had lost their husbands and all their sons in the war. The grief they felt was particularly acute.
Some 2,000 years earlier another mother had stood grief-stricken as she watched her son give up his life to secure the freedom of others. It is his words, recorded in John’s Gospel, that are inscribed around the tomb in the Abbey, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’
As we pause once again to remember those who gave their lives to secure our freedom, perhaps we might also remember Jesus who provided the template for self-sacrificial love. With his dying words ‘It is finished’ he secured a victory over the one conflict that creates all others, our broken relationship with a loving God. In him alone we find forgiveness, new life, and the seeds of everlasting peace.