Jesus and Waterloo - Midweek Musing for 4/12/22
Recently I went through a fairly harrowing ordeal. I was left at home alone while the girls went out to do something girly, and I was unable to find the remote control to either of our televisions. I know—it sounds horrifying, doesn't it?
I was able to survive, but it was tough. Eventually, the girls got home, and the remotes were located, but until then, the only thing I could do was turn on and off the TV. Now perhaps there are ways to change channels via the set itself, but ever since TV moved from the old turn the knob to change channels to a remote control, I have been unable to operate the TV set from the actual set, and as remotes have gotten more and more complicated I can barely even work them.
As a side note that has nothing to do with this musing, I do not understand why we can't have one remote as opposed to a remote for the TV and DVD and the soundbar and the Apple TV and the Fire Stick and the VCR….Yes, until a year or so ago, we still had a VCR even though the only tape we had was our wedding, and I am not sure we have ever watched it.
I am told I did say I do several times though all I really remember was the beauty of my stunning bride. (Yep, I just earned a big brownie point.) Anyway, back to my harrowing ordeal.
The TV set was on the History Channel. Now the night before, I had been watching a high-quality show entitled Swamp People. It is a show about hunting alligators in the Louisiana Bayou. Okay, maybe it is not high quality, but it sure is entertaining. However, the program I was now forced to watch was a documentary about the Battle of Waterloo.
Now had I been flipping through the tv guide, this is not a show I would have picked…and not because I had great knowledge about this battle. In fact, I probably could have shared the following with you before watching this show.
1. It was a battle, a big one.
2. Napoleon was involved.
3. And it was important.
4. And I am sure I knew more about it at one time because I needed to for a history test.
I guess I could have gotten up to exercise or do housework, but instead, I remained a Presbyterian Couch Potato and watched the documentary.
I am glad now that I did.
Did you know that The Battle of Waterloo took place in what is now Belgium on June 18, 1815? This Battle was the definitive defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, who, prior to Waterloo, had conquered much of Europe.
Napoleon had climbed rapidly through the ranks of the French army during the French Revolution, and as the 18th century was closing, he consolidated his power. In 1799, he seized control of the French government and was declared Emperor of France in 1804. Not content to just rule France, he sought to conquer all of Europe.
Through a series of wars, he expanded his empire across western and central Europe. However, Napoleon was not content with the added lands and continued to try to expand his empire, challenging both the Prussian and the British.
This push for more and more eventually cost him everything. And his final defeat at Waterloo, historians say, sent him into retreat, literally crying as he left the battlefield. This defeat was due to a variety of factors, some of which were in his control and some of which (like the weather) were not. In the end, Napoleon suffered a humiliating defeat at The Battle of Waterloo.
Reports show that the French Army lost 34,000 of its 70,000 troops at the Battle. And this defeat marked the end of Napoleon's reign and of France's domination in Europe.
Shortly after his defeat, Napoleon was exiled to the remote, British-held island of Saint Helena, where he died a few years later at the age of 51.
At the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon faced a coalition of British, Belgian, Dutch, German, and Prussian forces. They were led by Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who had gained prominence fighting against the French during the Peninsular War and would later go on to become the British Prime Minister.
Unlike today, there were no live reports of the battle that could be seen on TV. No AM, FM, Satellite, or even Shortwave radio broadcast reports. No live streaming or tweets via the internet. Instead, messages with news about the war and battles were sent back home by messenger and spread via a system of flag signals.
The flag system that was used relayed messages from one high point lookout to the next one to the people awaiting news. This was particularly fascinating to me, especially when I discovered this was how the citizens of London received news of how the Battle of Waterloo was going.
You see, on that very late Spring day in the year 1815, when the Battle of Waterloo took place, the citizens of London stood in the streets anxiously awaiting news. They knew that the battle of Waterloo was going on, and they wondered whether England or France would be victorious. A semaphore flagman on the tower of a church was signaling the news to the crowds as it came to him.
They wondered if the wily Duke of Wellington would be able to stop—or dare they even dream it—defeat Napoleon and his forces. As the crowd watched, the flagman signaled the words, "Wellington defeated …" A chill came over the crowd. As the story goes, as he was signaling, a heavy fog for which London is famous descended, and the flagman could not be seen. People were greatly afraid and wondered about the details of the battle.
But a short time later, the sun dispelled the fog, and the full message was signaled to the anxious crowd. The message was: "Wellington Defeated The Enemy."
Friends, that story is the story we live this week we call holy. Only our Holy Week has eternal implications.
The dark Friday of Jesus' crucifixion seemed to indicate that Jesus was defeated. That was Friday.
Then Sunday morning came. The stone over the tomb was rolled away. His body was missing. Then a voice was heard: "You seek Jesus of Nazareth. He is not here. He is risen." Jesus defeated the forces of fear and evil and sin and conquered forevermore the enemy called death.
Just when we thought the credits were about to roll and The End was going up on the screen, Jesus breaks all the rules and declares that this is not the end; rather, that there is a promised day waiting for the children of God where we will live with God forever.
Thanks be to God for such a promise that is claimed from the very shadow of the cross. For from that dark shadow, the light of Christ breaks forth, declaring the Lord's victory over death and promising we will all someday experience eternal life full to the brim as we dwell in the kingdom of God forever.