Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for Remembrance Sunday 2021

by Hilary Lamont 14 November 2021

Good morning and welcome to our worship for Remembrance Sunday. The service here reflects the service taking place in our church today.

Call to Worship:
Come, all who seek God,
Come, all who are faithful,
Come, all who yearn for justice,
Come, all who are broken.
Come, for God is here.
Waiting for you with arms open wide.

Songs:  Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord 
              Be still for the presence of the Lord

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Prayer of Adoration
God Almighty,
Creator of all the worlds that are and all the worlds to come;
God of faithfulness, of forgiveness, of hope;
Of power beyond our imagining - We worship You. Amen.

Prayer of Confession
O God of the past, the present and the future,  we ask this Remembrance Day your forgiveness - knowing how many have died or been wounded that we might live in freedom, 
forgive us when we treat a new day as ordinary; for not knowing how many broken people need someone to talk to,

forgive us for being too busy or too tired to give time; for knowing that wrong takes place,

forgive us for not always standing up and speaking out.

Lord God, this Remembrance Sunday may we look at the past and live in thankfulness for our life;

May we take the present and be determined to share your love;  and may we lift our eyes to the future and be touched by hope, for we have Christ.

We adore You God. Now and forever.

In Jesu’s name, Amen.

Old Testament reading:  Isaiah 2. 1-4

New testament reading:  Matthew 5.  43-48

Today is a very special day in the nation’s life and in the church’s life.  Many here will have watched over the years the array of programmes in the media that commemorate or try to explain the historical events that led to the great World Wars.  The ruthless acts of violence, the frailties of human egos, the obsessions, the courage, the faithfulness, the sacrifice.  War is where human nature can be seen at its most bestial and sacrifice at its most wonderful.  So our thoughts today turn to the awfulness of war, the horror and destruction, the heartbreak, and to the courage of men and women, whether we are thinking of the trenches in World War One, or the horror of more recent wars in the world.  The loss of human life, and the consequences that leave broken bodies and broken minds, are horrific.

So, the question arises.

It has been over a hundred years since the First World War, and it won’t be that long before it will be a hundred years since the Second World War.

Is it not time to let the past go?  

Time to move on and concentrate our energies on the future, instead of digging up the terrors of the past.

The answer is no.  Remembrance is vitally important.

Through remembering, we learn how to work to avoid the mistakes of the past; remembering deepens insight into wisdom; remembering enables us to shape our future differently.

And remembrance is profoundly Biblical, woven through the depths of the Bible, from the opening chapters, through the prophets, through the gospels, through the letters, and seen at its deepest in the remembering of the Last Supper, of Holy Communion.  The giving of Christ of himself to us, His people.  

We need to remember.  

But, we cannot remember war without feeling overcome by the scale of suffering - suffering so vast, so appalling, so utterly tragic.  There are no words that can sum up the feelings of grief or the depth of pain when we look at how war ruins so many lives.

We don’t talk much about suffering in the Protestant church and I have no easy answers, for platitudes are too shallow and too glib.  There are times when I am too numbed by horror, too overwhelmed by sorrow.  

Then I have to fix my mind and my heart on the God who, in only a few weeks, we will remember being given myrrh, the symbol of suffering, at His incarnation on earth.   Suffering leads us to Christ, and to the cross, and ultimately beyond to the resurrection.

I remember when I was driving to work one day, listening to Thought for the Day on the radio.  A few hours earlier there had been a most terrible coach crash.  The speaker very gently spoke these words: “It is said we cannot look upon the face of God, because His suffering is more than we can bear.”  

That is why the empty cross is so crucial to our lives.  For on the cross, Christ breaks the power of all that is destructive and that binds us, to give us hope.  

God in Christ knows all about suffering - we never face it or go through it alone.  

God is with us.  One of us.  Emmanuel.

At the start of World War Two, Billy was a big lad for his age.  Like many boys, he was captivated by the war and, giving a false age, he managed to join up when he was only fifteen.  Before he knew it, his training was over and he was sent abroad to fight.  Within months, his unit was captured and he was taken to a prisoner-of-war camp by the Japanese.  It was unbearably awful.

On his seventeenth birthday, literally starving to death, he went scouting round the bushes, desperate to find some roots he could dig up to eat and by the most extraordinary piece of luck, he found a snake.  He caught it and ate it all.  The following evening he returned, hoping to find another snake and stumbled into a little clearing in the middle of the bushes and came across a group of men squatting on the ground.  They were passing between them a blackened crust of bread and a beaker of water, stained red by the juice of a berry.  They looked up and invited him to join them.  

There, in the middle of the most forsaken and brutal and broken place on earth, was Christ.  

By remembering the legacy of war, we remember the sacrifice, the suffering, the sheer cost of human lives.  

In keeping our eyes on Christ, we promise God this day that we will never cease to work for the time when swords are beaten into pruning hooks, and spears into ploughshares, and when nation shall not lift up sword against nation - and war shall be no more.

Through Christ, and in Christ, all things are possible.

In a few minutes of silence we remember

Prayer of Remembrance
Almighty God,
as we remember all those who have died in war or been damaged by war,  we give our thanks for their courage and their sacrifice.
We ask that we might always use Your precious gift of life to work for peace with justice and bring healing to Your world.
In the name of Christ, who gives Himself again and again in love for us. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn:  For the healing of the nations

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Prayers of Intercession
God Almighty, we pray for all countries that today are being torn apart by violence, and for men women and children who live in terror of what tomorrow will bring.  We pray that Your Spirit will sweep through all lands, establishing peace with justice.

We pray for creation.  May we, who have been given the responsibility of this beautiful and fragile world, strive through our words and our everyday actions to help humanity be at peace with Your created world.

We pray for the vision of this church.  May she always stand as a place of light in a world that is broken; may she always be a place of forgiveness and healing; may she always be a place where all are welcomed and all are surrounded by love.

We pray for ourselves, we who are the bearers of the light.  May we keep our eyes solely fixed upon Christ.  May we hold Christ at the centre of all our living, and may we grow deeper day by day into His love and into His grace.

Song:  Faithful One, so unchanging

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May the God of peace guide our steps in wisdom,
May the God of righteousness keep our hearts in truth,
May the God of love, enfold us in His Grace, Now and always. Amen