COLUMN: Dr Martin Warner, the Bishop of Chichester

There is something extraordinary about the two minute silence on Remembrance Sunday.

The Bishop of Chichester
The Bishop of Chichester

If you are at a war memorial, it might take place with large numbers of people, young and old, and with significant representation from the armed forces. The last post is sounded and everyone falls silent.

Two minutes feels like an eternity. Why is that?

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I guess it’s something to do with standing still, with the gravity death and heroism in the stories being remembered, with being part of a crowd that is inexplicably silent, with old veterans and young widows, with representatives of church and state – Her Majesty the Queen chief among them.

For two long minutes we experience being a nation that is briefly united in a common act of respect and recollection.

The value of this experience is more than symbolic. It ought to remind us that in a unity moulded out of respect for the lives of others, we reach for the virtues of justice, bravery, selflessness, duty and love. These are the virtues that inspire resistance to oppression and the search for lasting peace.

In the Christian story of the death of Jesus on the cross, silence is the prelude to the experience of meeting him, risen from the dead. His first words are: “Peace be with you”.

May the two minute silence inspire you to search for the peace and risen life that are his gift to us all.