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A church group has produced a booklet to help people make use of the silence, reports Philip Halcrow

People do not necessarily know how to use that silent space

ON the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years will be brought into focus in two minutes. This year’s Remembrance Sunday will mark a century since the end of the First World War.

Across the UK and in some foreign fields, cathedral and church bells will sound out to echo the fact that on Armistice Day 100 years ago, churches spontaneously rang their bells after being restricted during the war.

In central London, this year’s national service of remembrance will be followed by a procession of 10,000 members of the public who will ‘give thanks to all those who served in the First World War to secure the victory’.

Many more people will attend acts of remembrance, which will include – at 11 o’clock – two minutes’ silence.

Those attending some services may be reflecting on the contents of a small booklet entitled Silence, which is being given out by Christians. It has been produced by church-based group Hope.

Hope has been marking significant dates during the First World War centenary commemorations. In December 2014 it co-ordinated the singing of ‘Silent Night’ at football clubs to highlight the Christmas Truce, when British and German troops played football and sang together. Since 4 August it has been holding 100 days of prayer for peace, dating from the centenary of a national day of prayer called by King George V in 1918 and ending on Armistice Day.

Catherine Butcher of Hope explains that the new booklet has been designed to help people make use of the two minutes’ silence.

‘I wrote Silence,’ she says, ‘because many remembrance events are hosted by a church or are led by clergy and people of all faiths and none stand in silence, but they do not necessarily know how to use that silent space.

‘At Hope, we wanted to produce a pocket-sized booklet that could easily be given away to help people reflect on the sacrifice that was made in wartime, but also the sacrifice that Christ made. And we tried to show where some of the things that are said during services of remembrance come from.

‘Many people don’t realise that the phrase “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” was said by Jesus. So we put that phrase in context to help people understand it.’

Catherine adds that the booklet also includes other Bible verses that surround the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. Sometimes disappearing beneath the poppies, one of those verses declares: ‘In Christ shall all be made alive’ (1 Corinthians 15:22).

She says: ‘A hundred years ago many more people would have had an understanding of the resurrection hope that Jesus gives us. Often nowadays people don’t know what happens next, but in the past people were confident that death was not the end.

‘The booklet encourages people to reflect on the need for forgiveness in the world and to consider who Jesus is. We acknowledge the darkness of war, that there were so many who died, but we also want people to recognise hope because Jesus is alive.

‘Ultimately we want to emphasise the love of Christ, which overcomes everything.’

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