Alderman Robert Hughes-Penney's Address at the Bank of England’s Act of Remembrance on 11th November 2021

Large 7be97899 99a2 485e be3c 933f09a3f232

Arranged by the Bank of England Christian Union and the Bank Employees That Served network

Micah 4 v 1-5

Good morning,

Let’s pray “Heavenly Father as we come together today, to remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice, we pray now that you will speak to us through your Word and by your Spirit, Amen”

Well, thank you so much to the Bank of England Christian Union and the Bank Employees That Served network for inviting me to say a few words at this Event of Remembrance. It is a great privilege and honour.

Those that have served may recall either from junior NCO cadres or Sandhurst, or equivalent training, as I do, the military “methods of instruction” approach to teaching. For those less familiar with the military it is; tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you’ve told them.

So, today we are going to rightly recognise the day, Remembrance Day, those who have fallen, what it means in the context of the world today, what does the bible say about that and how are we now called to live.

Today we honour those who laid down their lives for us; untold numbers in two World Wars, and conflicts since – the Malayan Emergency, Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf War, Bosnia and more recently Iraq and Afghan.

In fact, when I was serving there had only been one year, since WWII when the Armed Forces had not suffered a death on operations – only one year in something like 50 years when a loved one, a son, a father, a brother, a friend had not been taken from their family – maybe you have been affected by such a loss…

And in the nearly 30 years since I “retired” and put away my khaki, there has again been only one year without an operational fatality, which brings the total to nearly 7,200 British military deaths, in conflicts. A number that now includes women, daughters and wives, as well as men. 7,200 families who have grieved.

And in addition, there are many times that number who have been injured, scared, physically and mentally by their military service and sacrifice.

Today, we remember and honour their memory. We recall their sacrifice. We thank God for our deliverance, gained at such a dreadful price.

In the context of today, what does this mean for us? Well we are fortunate recipients and beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by the fallen. And in that way we undoubtedly stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before; drawing on the well know Kohima Epitaph, we are able to go into our tomorrow because they gave their today.

I had a great uncle, who prior to the war was a bank manager with Nat West, he served in the Royal Artillery as a Forward Observation Officer, landed on D-day, I have his maps of the beaches with his pencil markings at home. He was mentioned in dispatches on that day, and was later awarded the Military Cross for actions in Holland. In many ways he was an inspiration to me, and I am sure you have individuals who have been a significant influence in your life, whether they were in the military or not.

In that way we have relied on those that have gone before, to stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before - just as others will look to us and rely on the foundations that we provide. In that way the sacrifices, and I don’t say this in any way to diminish the grief and pain of loss, lead to blessing, which compounds with each generation. And if there is anywhere that I go where an explanation of the benefits of compound interest do not have to be explained it is the Bank of England.

So, while some have been called on to die for their friends.

The rest of us have been called to live for ours and those that follow us.

And whilst we remember and are inspired by the sacrifice of these individuals and contemplate how we should live our lives, for those around us, and those that follow us, let us also look to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, who died for each and every one of us, and our forebears, and our successors. Jesus who had done no wrong gave up his place alongside the Father in heaven, to be sacrificed, so that we, who are imperfect and get so many things wrong, could be made right and reconciled with God who is perfect.

In the verses from the prophet Micah, the Lord’s temple is described as being established like a mountain among the mountains – the Everest in the Himalyas. The temple was the greatest thing in the religion of the Jews, it was the mountain pinnacle in their scenery, rising above all competition, for all to see and recognise – and as such be a place of such importance and attractiveness that the peoples will stream to it because in their hearts and minds they recognise that being in God’s presence is an attractive and good place to be – somewhere that you will recognise in your own experience where the air is clean and sweet, somewhere where you get to see a perspective on and across the world, a perspective that is freeing and releasing.

You can look down and see the mountain paths and the best routes to take to navigate the journeys ahead.

And although we are not facing kinetic war in this country today I am sure we recognise the threats and challenges to stability and peace both societally internally and domestically and with the changing geo-political tectonic plates internationally. I am often guilty of taking offence, and I dare say you are too. But we also see it at a macro level. And I often remember that we express it as taking offence not giving offence. But I know I am most likely to take offence when I am not feeling loved. And so as we hear and read of stories about people or nations taking offence let’s remember that it is the absence of love that creates this fertile ground for offence and division.

As those that have read on in the Bible to the Gospel of John will know, we read that God is love, and that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, Jesus, who was sacrificed so that we could be reconciled with God.

And this is what is happening when we read of the swords being beaten into ploughshares, and spears turned into pruning hooks – this is not an instruction to go into our workshops and do this in our own strength, or misguided wisdom that our human efforts can overcome human nature; it is not an invitation to naivety in the face of aggressors, but is a recognition of what occurs in our hearts day by day when we live in the presence of the Lord and accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

As we honour those that have sacrificed their all for us today, let us all also honour Christ who gave his all for each one of us, our friends and neighbours, by honouring Him, accepting Him as our Lord and saviour, and walking in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.

And so today as we remember of the great love shown by those whose names we honour today we also consider what that means in the context of today, to love and serve, to bless those around us, and those coming on after us so that they may be blessed by standing on our shoulders, just as we are so incredibly blessed by the love and sacrifice of those that have gone before us, and critically first to know and honour God so that through Jesus’s redeeming sacrifice we might be equipped in our hearts to live as He would want us to.

One of my favourite Bible verses is Jeremiah 6v16. Let me share it with you because I think it applies to you and today; “stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk in it and you will live in peace.” Whenever I read it I associate it with the City and specifically Bank junction. And so when you leave the Bank tonight, and when you come and go in the days ahead, as you walk across Bank junction, remember that verse; stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk in it and you will live in peace.

Amen.

Order of Service