In honour of Remembrance Day, celebrated here in Canada on Nov. 11th, I thought I'd post this devotional from my book Focused Reflections. Enjoy.
It sounds like a gunshot. The report, echoing back from the marble walls, is the sound of a single soldier coming to attention. The sound comes from the sole of his boot as it strikes the floor in the Memorial Chamber on the second level of the Peace Tower in the Ottawa Parliament Buildings. The soldier salutes, bows, stands in silence for a moment and then opens a glass case in front of him. Carefully he reaches in and turns the page of a large book. Then he closes the case and moves on. There are seven cases, each containing a large book. The soldier comes to attention, salutes and bows at each one. This process is repeated every day at eleven o’clock. The seven books contain the names of the thousands of men and women, Canadians, who have died at war.
It took several artists many years to create the books, which are decorated with heraldic illumination and calligraphy. The paper and binding used were specially made. The steps and stand on which they rest are made of marble imported from the quarries of Flanders Fields. They are embedded with brass plates hand-crafted from the shell casings retrieved from battlefields and bearing the names of the major battles in which Canadians took part. All the symbolism and ceremony surrounding the Six Books of Remembrance is meant to honour those men and women, some long dead, for their sacrifice and acts of valour.
But there are more than seven Books of Remembrance. Revelation 20:11-15 tells us there are books in heaven, too. The exiled Apostle John described them as he saw them in his vision. He wrote: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne and books were opened. Another book was opened which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (v.12) .... If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (v.15)
There will no doubt also be great ceremony, great honour, but also great disgrace associated with the books of remembrance in heaven. That final judgement will herald a new beginning for all of God’s creation. For some, those whose names are written in the book of life, it will be the beginning of an eternity lived in the presence of God. For others, those whose names are not in that book, it will be the beginning of an eternity lived in the absence of God.
But there will be a difference between the ceremony in heaven and the one that is conducted on earth. The ceremony in heaven will happen in the presence of those people. They will be there to see the books opened and to hear their names called. Whose names will be written in the book of life? Jesus tells us - “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
Watch a video of the ceremony in the Memorial Chamber.
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