Today marks the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France. News and social media outlets are chock-a-block with stories commemorating the valiant efforts undertaken by the allied soldiers, particularly the Canadians.
It has been noted that this likely will be the last time many of Canada’s veterans will return to France to mark D-Day. After all, given that many of them were in their late teens or early twenties at the time, they are all around ninety years of age, and many are growing frail. Unlike their fallen comrades, age has wearied them.
Thankfully, though, their efforts are remembered on occasions like this, and annually on November 11. The goal, of course, is not to glorify war; none of the veterans would have us do that, for each of them knows intimately that there is no glory in war. Instead, they would have us remember, and work for peace. When we remember the cost of war – the cost in lives lost – we are encouraged to live peaceably with our neighbours.
There is a parallel here for the church of Jesus in Canada. Particularly in mainline denominations, we hear of churches closing at a frightening rate. Too often, a church closes, and its building is repurposed: condominiums, loft apartments, small businesses. Its shape and form serve as a memorial to a community of faith that once enlivened that piece of God’s earth.
For me, those are reminders – not of the eventuality of the church’s demise, but of the need to draw people to the Lord, to – dare I use this word? – evangelize. God will preserve his church; it does not belong to another to dictate her lifespan. But in his wisdom, God chooses to use his faithful people to bring growth, new life to his church. We are told in the Great Commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28.18-20, NIV).
Just as seeing a monument at a cenotaph causes us to remember those who died for the cause of freedom, and to preserve peace, so seeing a repurposed church building can cause us to remember our responsibility to share our faith with others, if even in subtle ways.
Sow the seed in a way that comes naturally to you, and let the Lord look after the cultivation.