Early into my ministry I found myself at a local supermarket store. I reached the checkout counter with a bottle of wine and offered it up to a young man at the till. He smirked, and said, ‘I didn’t think vicars were allowed to drink.’ I didn’t mind him saying this although I noticed a few customers adjacent to me scowling; perhaps they thought his words were a little familiar. Later on in the week I was stopped by one of those customers at Church who expressed just that. 

However, what the other customers didn’t witness was the conversation which followed at the checkout. This young man wanted to talk. He had spotted the ‘collar’ and saw this as his first opportunity to discuss something pressing on his mind. You see, this young man had just committed himself to join the armed services. And he was struggling with the notion of belief in God and taking a life. He saw the paradox of protecting and serving people on behalf of his country and that of potentially ending the life of another as key to understanding who he was. “Is it ok to kill?” he asked. I believe this young man to be wiser than his years suggest. 

It is of course something many people give a lot of thought to over November. I know I do, my Grandfathers brother died a few days after D day in France and my Father was a Grenadier Guard. In this month we remember those who fought and are fighting to keep us safe. We remember their sacrifice, the sacrifice of their families many of whom are living with the consequences of those sacrifices today. Above all we remember not to glorify but to teach our children so that we may hope for a world in which no one suffers the terrors so many do today. 

Is it ok to kill? No, but that’s hardly a fair question. A fairer one would be is there killing in this world? And the answer would be, yes, as there has been for as long as history is recorded. And as long as borders continue to be threatened, as long as our 7 


children’s future is at risk, as long as people continue to die across the world and on our streets, we will call for brave people and wise leaders to stand and protect us. 

So join me in praying for God’s blessing on our armed services, past and present. May they be continually guided by the grace of God, that his will be done and his Kingdom come. And let us pray the salvation of this world be realised in our lifetimes, not in a bullet but in the love of Christ. 


Stephen Nolan