Memorial Service on Agnes Street 2016-11-11
I’m the Minister of Immanuel and I’m honoured to be here today for the unveiling of this plaque. The plague, which is being unveiled today, commemorates the men from Agnes Street Presbyterian Church who died in the First World War. This is a copy of the original plaque which is held in the Somme Heritage Centre. It was originally displayed in Agnes Street Presbyterian which amalgamated with Bethany Presbyterian Church over 40 years ago to form Immanuel Presbyterian.
The plaque states:
In sincere appreciation of the loyalty and courage of 545 men of this congregation who served with the Colours in the defence of Empire and Liberty and in loving memory of the following who made the great sacrifice.
It then lists the names of 72 men who died. Among the names are two McDonalds from the same address in Rosapenna Street; presumably they were from the same family; one died in September 1916; the other in September 1917. There are two Montgomerys from Snugville Street; one died in May 1915; the other in June 1919. There are two named Officer from Manor Street; one died in June 1915; the other in June 1916. And there are three named Tully from Bristol Street: one died in October 1914; one in August 1917; the other in August 1918. And there are so many other names, names which are familiar to us and who may very well be related to people we know today; they are the names of men who paid the ultimate price in order to defend Empire and Liberty. And, of course, these are the names from only one congregation; in many of the churches in the area, there will be similar plaques to commemorate other men who died in the first and second wars.
These plaques were made in order to remember those who served during the wars and who gave up their lives. And, at this time of the year, we hold our Remembrance Services to remember them. When I was doing some research a few years ago, I discovered that the reason our Remembrance Services include the playing of the Last Post, followed by a period of silence, followed by the playing of the Rouse is to symbolise the church’s belief in the resurrection of the dead when all those who have trusted in Christ in this life will be raised from the dead to live for ever in the life to come.
And so, the Last Post is sounded to symbolise how the fallen once died and their bodies were laid in the grave. And the silence symbolises the silence of the grave and the sorrow of death. But then the Rouse is sounded to symbolise how one day the bodies of the fallen will rise from their graves to live for ever with the Lord.
The resurrection of their bodies from the grave will take place when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Right now, the Lord — who died for sinners and who was raised from the dead — is in heaven where he’s preparing a place for all his people. One day he’s coming back to earth. And when he comes, the graves will give up the dead. Those who trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ in this life will live with him for ever in that fullness of joy which he has prepared for all who love him. Those who never believed will be sent away from the presence of the Lord to be punished with everlasting destruction. But I say again: those who trusted in him in this life will live with him for ever. That’s the great hope which the Lord gives to his people who believe in him. And that great hope enables us to face and to endure the sorrow and suffering of this troubled life.
And so, no doubt many of those men whose names are written here believed in the Lord; and no doubt they went to war, and faced its terror, believing in the resurrection of their bodies and everlasting life with the Lord. And that same hope of the resurrection to everlasting life can be yours as well if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you believe in him — the one who died for sinners and who was raised from the dead — then, after the Last Post is sounded for your death, and after the silence of the grave and the sorrow of death, there will come the trumpet sound of the Lord to awaken you and to raise you to everlasting life. That hope of the resurrection and everlasting life can be yours, if you will only trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In John’s Gospel chapter 11, the Lord said to Martha:
> I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die….
And then he added:
> Do you believe this?
And Martha answer:
> Yes, Lord. I believe….
So, as we unveil this plaque and honour those who died for Empire and Liberty, I say to you: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will live with them and, more importantly, you will live with him for ever and for ever.
Please click on the links below for the Rolls of Honour