This afternoon, I received a telephone call to say that my elderly aunt had died. Aunty Nancy was my father’s last remaining family member to pass away. She had lost her mother from tuberculosis when still a child and her brother had been killed in the first night of the Clydebank Blitz on 13th March 1941, when German bombers crossed Scotland to attack Glasgow’s docks. He had been sent home on leave after suffering what we now recognise as post-traumatic stress working as a medic at Dunkirk. She had also lost a young son, who died aged seven many years ago, as well as her husband more recently.
This all sounds very depressing and for many Remembrance Sunday will be depressing: a reminder of the presence of evil and the huge human cost of war. But my aunt was a believer, and that changes everything.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians chapter 4, Paul comforts new believers with these words: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”