Holy Trinity seems to have been adopted by the local Aden Veterans Association as their church. We dedicated their new standard on Sunday and were reminded of what ‘maintaining the standard’ means for Christians in a great sermon by Revd. Geoffrey Hall.
The veterans are modest men, who rarely speak much about what it was really like, or the cost of serving out there. But you notice that they seem a bit stiff – going up steps is becoming difficult. When I was speaking to one of them he said, “Many of us jumped out of parachutes a lot, and it wrecks your joints.” So hip and knee replacements are called for – and there is normally no quick and top-rate treatment for them as there is in, for example, US military hospitals. Easy to forget that kind of thing when we see old soldiers.
They have asked about laying up their standard in our Memorial Chapel when it ‘gets to that point’. I hadn’t fully realised what a standard means until the sermon. It’s almost like a person – or perhaps the person of the regiment or group. So laying it up in a chapel is almost like finding a place of burial, just as letting it fall or be captured is almost like homicide or betrayal.
All of which sets me thinking about other banners – of the Trades Unions, the Mothers’ Union, Confraternities and Guilds and the rest, all proclaiming the soul of a group of people. And what is the place of the Cross?