Battle of the Somme Commemoration 2016
Mark Tatty Gordon was invited by North Down Somme Society to speak at their 100th Anniversary Battle of the Somme commemoration at Helen's Tower, Lady Dufferin's Estate on Friday 1st July at 6.00am.
John 3 v 14 – 17 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
In the Bible, Book of Numbers Chapter 21 there is an interesting episode, an event in the people of Israel’s journey to the Promised Land.
Having been liberated from their Egyptian oppressors they marched forward together to freedom.
But soon they became discouraged and dissatisfied and they spoke against God.
God sent fiery serpents (copper-headed snakes) into the camp which bit the people and many died.
The people came to Moses their leader and confessed their sin.
Moses then prayed to God who told him to make a bronze fiery serpent, set it on a pole and raise it up; and God said, “Anyone who is bitten by a snake, if they look at the serpent on the pole they will live.”
It was that simple – Look and Live!
On this 100th anniversary Somme commemoration we should consider ourselves to be a privileged generation that looks back to the sacrifice paid by so many, to ensure we were delivered from terrible oppressors.
Because of their sacrifice, today in 2016, we together live in that purchased freedom.
We Look and Live!
We look down the corridors of time and gaze upon the fields of France where many of our forebears shed their life blood to purchase our freedom.
We Look and Live!
“During the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, the 36th Ulster was the only division that achieved its objectives on the opening day of the battle. But it came at a great price, with the division suffering in two days of fighting 5,500 officers and enlisted men killed, wounded or missing. The war correspondent Philip Gibbs said of the 36th Ulster Division, “Their attack was one of the finest displays of human courage in the world.”
They were Ulster’s volunteers who very likely grew up in the same streets, or worked alongside, or went to the same church, as the man standing beside them. Many knew each other well and they strengthened and comforted one another, killed for one another and watched each other die.” (BBC)
We look at their love for their country, their love of freedom and we live of the fruit of their sacrifice.
100 years on and this commemoration, like all other acts of remembrance, is another God given opportunity for us to Look and Live!
We look at the price paid on our behalf, and all we’re asked to pay is respect and reverence, and not to let their sacrifice go unnoticed or untold.
And as we look back, let’s also take time to quietly reflect on the sacrifice of our local volunteers, members of the Royal Irish Regiment and Ulster Defence Regiment, of the RUC and British Armed Forces servicemen and women who gave their all that we might live.
We honour their courage, and reverently respect the sacrifice they made to safeguard the freedoms we still enjoy today.
But before I end, let me tell you about another who sacrificed everything for us so that we could be free from the worst oppressor of all.
Jesus the Son of God was lifted up on a pole (a cross) to pay the price for sin, and God now declares to all mankind, (because all are sinners, all have been bitten by the serpent of sin), God declares, “If you look to him, if you look with faith to Jesus you will live.”
I urge you to believe in Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf and Look and Live!
Ode to Remembrance
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.