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The Rest Is Silence

Sermon, Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto, November 11, 2018

Readings: 1 Kings 17:8–16; Hebrews 9:24–28; Mark 12:38–44

Hear this sermon as it was delivered:

On November 11, 1918, at 11 AM, the Great War officially ended and the guns fell silent.

That’s not just a figure of speech. It’s not just lofty poetry. Guns kept firing right until 11 o’clock. Artillery kept blasting away. More than 10,000 people died that morning.

Nobody was tape recording the sound; they didn’t have tape recorders. No one was at the front with a wax cylinder to record the sound phonographically. But oil drums in several locations were rigged up to transmit the vibrations for visual recording on a strip of film. They were used for triangulating the positions of enemy guns. They were still in use on the morning of November 11th, and a filmstrip has survived. It looks like a multi-line seismograph. The Imperial War Museum commissioned a reconstruction of the sound. You can hear different kinds of artillery blasting holes in the air more than once a second for a half a minute. And then they stop like a battalion of troops ordered to halt.

The war to end all wars was over.

It didn’t end all wars. We keep shooting at each other. Continue reading The Rest Is Silence