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Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh

Sunday Services at 10 am and 11.30 am

Letter from the Manse

 October 2018

Dear Friends

It seems very fitting that the centenary of the end of the First World War should be on a Sunday. At our Service of Remembrance we will mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as it was initiated exactly 100 years ago. After four years of conflict, and many millions dead, those who had endured the hardship and pain of war must have experienced huge relief.

Over the last four years we have been remembering those who fought and died during the First World War. Several Duddingston families lost young men and some more than one son.

I recall my great-aunt telling me of her two brothers heading off to France, both in Scottish regiments on the front line. At several points during the war the family lost contact with their sons. My great-aunt told me that their mother bought a daily newspaper and would scroll up and down the list of casualties looking for the names of her sons. Hundreds of names were printed every day. During the conflict the loss of life was huge. On average 4,000 people died every single day of the war – every day for four years.

Tragically my great-aunt’s father died in a pit accident and the two sons were granted compassionate leave from the front line to return for their father’s funeral. It was the last time the family was to see Adam. Two months to the day after his father’s death, Adam was killed. He served with the 9th Battalion Cameronians, also known as the Scottish Rifles. Adam was buried where he fell at Arras in France. Adam was a war hero. He was one of thousands who never returned. My great-aunt told me that her mother never got over his death and mourned for the remainder of her life.

As we remember this Armistice Day we do so saddened by the loss of life that now seems a needless waste and yet lives that fought for our freedom. Sometimes the ultimate sacrifice becomes necessary to overcome the evil that threatens it. When our God sent his Son into the world, God did so to show us a new way to live, and new way of life. But the old ways prevailed and the very one who came to save us was killed on a cross by evil in the hearts of those who should have known better. The Gospel message to all people everywhere is that not even death can defeat our God and hope beyond our present lives prevails. Hallelujah!

Rev. Dr James Jack

Adam Jack, killed at Arras aged 20 years