Sunday 8th November Remembrance Sunday
The budget for UK defence in the year to March 2020 was £50.3 billion. The US spends $649 billion (£499 billion). This large amount of money is spent on everything that is necessary to prepare in case the military is required to provide protection for the country, either at home or abroad. The preparations take many forms – the cost of personnel, development of new equipment and the cost of that equipment, training, housing and more. If any group of people demonstrates the ability to make solid preparations, it is surely the military.

But preparation for deployment is about more than practical considerations. Emotional and spiritual preparations are also important, and each service includes within its ranks chaplains, who provide the kind of support that serving personnel and their families need. They are there to provide support to military personnel, whether they are training at home, or deployed abroad, training or facing real conflict.

The needs of military personnel themselves are different from those of their families, but all live with the possibility that tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year the call may come to be deployed somewhere dangerous. While it isn’t possible to be truly prepared for such a call, chaplains and others can help people to prepare as much as possible, both spiritually and emotionally.

Unlike military preparations, there is very little we can do in a practical sense to be ready for an encounter with God. But, like military personnel and their families, we can make mental and spiritual preparations for the promised end and for whatever it is that God has planned for us on our journey through life.

Perhaps, like the foolish bridesmaids, in a parable Jesus told, we attend to our spiritual life to some extent. We could think of the oil in their lamps as prayer, meditation on God’s word and other spiritual practices. We may be developing an excellent relationship with God by these methods, but at some point we become distracted and lose focus. The oil has run out and we put off going to buy some more. It’s very easy to do, and it may be just at the wrong moment, when we are on the verge of moving on to something deeper, or when something happens that requires a depth of spiritual maturity to cope, or to make the most of an opportunity.

Like the bridesmaids, and the military personnel and their families, we do not know the day or the hour. As we remember those lives taken away in past conflicts and wars. We can only remain prepared, and those preparations are both a challenge and a joy, as God leads us to new heights of understanding and relationship.

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Please note that FRIDAY is my day off!

Copy deadline for December edition - Saturday 7th November