The chosen hymns for this week, For the Healing of the Nation and Behold the Mountain of the Lord can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.
Luke 22: 47-53
Welcome to our time of reflection for Remembrance Sunday.
On this day, more than any other day, we reflect on the use of violence to get things done.
The passage we will use is the time when the disciples were desperate. Judas had led the temple guard to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. The disciples felt they were in a corner, the disciples felt they needed to use the option of last resort, to get out their swords.
As is normal in these situations, it is an innocent, a servant, who gets their ear cut off.
The reason I used this version in Luke, is that Luke’s Gospel is the only Gospel that mentions that Jesus heals the servant; which is interesting because Luke’s Gospel is the only one not written by a disciple. The disciples, preoccupied with themselves, saw their act of bravery as an act of failure so leave the passage with them running off. Luke, the doctor, realises that the important part of what happened is not the disciples running away, but the needs of those left behind.
Anyway, we will reflect on the passage after Gil reads it to us.
Gil is going to lead us in prayer, read this important passage and then lead us in the Lord’s Prayer where you are invited to stand if you are able
Let us all, including those who are listening or watching at home, come before God in prayer. Let us all pray:
God of peace and justice, on this day of remembrance we bring to mind all those who have served, and those who are still serving, our nation. We remember with gratitude, and with humility, the sacrifices that many in the armed forces, and in the civilian services, have made in their efforts to preserve liberty and freedom. We thank you for the fortitude that those who have served have shown, and we ask that you will be with all who are still serving. Guide and support them in their work so that they remain vigilant and dedicated, keen to serve others, and may they strive to make this world a better place to live.
Compassionate God, we bring before you all people everywhere, who have suffered, or who are still suffering, as a result of conflict. As well as the personnel in the armed forces, and in the civilian services, we remember too that there have been many innocent people who have been caught-up in wars and conflicts, and who have lost everything.
Merciful God, forgive us for our collective stupidity which leads to conflicts. Help us, and our leaders, to overcome our fear, our envy, our greed, and the desire for power over others. Let us always remember that Jesus taught us that we should love our neighbour, and remember too, that he then went on to explain that everyone is our neighbour. He also said that peacemakers will be blessed. Lord we pray that you will guide and help all leaders everywhere, to look for ways of bringing peace and reconciliation to the troubled areas of the world.
Lord, most of us have little, or no, influence on international matters, and we tell ourselves that we are not personally responsible for any of the many conflicts, but we confess that we are sometimes involved in disputes and arguments, both within our families and in the wider community. We ask that you will give us the courage to take the first steps to try to bring an end to our petty disputes and quarrels, so that we too may be called peacemakers.
Caring God, there is still much suffering and distress in our world, not only as a direct, or indirect, result of conflict, but also from the effects of poverty and disease. At this time we are particularly aware of the impact of Covid-19 on people all across the world. We pray for all who have been affected in any way, and we also pray for the researchers, the medical personnel, and the huge number of support staff who are working to combat the current pandemic. The present situation has made us more aware of the valuable work that all these people do, and we ask that you will strengthen and support them in their work of helping others.
Lord, we give thanks for all the people who are working to bring your peace and comfort to those who have been bereaved, to bring healing to those who have been injured in mind or body, and to bring aid to those in need. Guide us so that we can do our part to help in whatever way we can.
We offer our prayer in Jesus’ name.
Now I invite you to join in the prayer that Jesus gave us.
Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation.
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever.
Our reading is from Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 22, and verses 47 to 53.
This is the passage where Luke tells us what happened when Jesus was arrested.
So let us read Luke, Chapter 22 and verses 47 to 53.
47 Jesus was still speaking when a crowd arrived, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. He came up to Jesus to kiss him.
48 But Jesus said, "Judas, is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of Man?"
49 When the disciples who were with Jesus saw what was going to happen, they asked, "Shall we use our swords, Lord?"
50 And one of them struck the High Priest's slave and cut off his right ear.
51 But Jesus said, "Enough of this!" He touched the man's ear and healed him.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and the officers of the Temple guard and the elders who had come there to get him, "Did you have to come with swords and clubs, as though I were an outlaw?
53 I was with you in the Temple every day, and you did not try to arrest me. But this is your hour to act, when the power of darkness rules."
Amen, and may God help us to a better understanding of His Word.
I have always found the Remembrance Day service the hardest.
What is there to say?
War rarely makes things better...well we all know that.
Violence rarely makes a difference for good...well we all know that.
But it seems that we never learn our lessons.
World War 1.
On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia on 23 July. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, and the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
The result was 9 million combatants died, 13 million civilians died.
And that was nothing to the unintended consequence of the war.
The hovels and poverty and tightly packed conditions of the trenches, with thousands upon thousands of men in terrible conditions with poor diets and compromised immune systems was the perfect environment for a new flu virus to grow.
As the men returned from the war they spread the virus worldwide.
Every country that saw it grow had a news blackout; they didn’t want their war heroes to be feared as the harbingers of death. So each government refused to allow the papers to report all these sudden deaths.
The only country that warned their people was one that had no axe to grind; they hadn’t really been involved in the war so when their people started to die in large numbers because of a new virus they reported it in their papers, which is why it was called the Spanish flu.
Up to 100 million people died because of that flu.
It is very easy to look back at all the politicians, all those that pressed for war and ask them, ‘Was it worth it?
All those deaths, all those that survived but were damaged, all the poverty that rippled on from that disaster?’
But then people would justifiably say, it isn’t as easy is that Jim.
I’m being naive.
They could argue that war, violence is the weapon of last resort. There are some people that will only respond to violence. There are some people that you just have to stand up to.
Would Hitler have responded to anything else but violence?
In the Ukraine would Russia give up the land it has taken without violence?
Would the minorities in Syria be a safer country if they just gave in to the dictatorship of President Assad?
The problem is that that argument becomes a slippery slope.
Fore instance will the Israelis ever give up the land they have taken for settlements if Palestinians don’t use violence to reclaim what has been taken from them? Is that what we really think they should do?
It all seems very messy, very complicated.
I think we need to bring it back down to basics that we understand.
Our bodies have a fight or flight mechanism when we are in severe conflict. We flood our bodies with a hormone called adrenaline which fills us with energy. For some it gives them the energy to fight, for others it gives them the energy to run.
So in national conflicts some people will fight for one side or the other, others will flee and become refugees to get away from endangering them and their families.
But even at a personal level we do this.
And as our reading today shows us, we are tempted to go with our instincts, to fight or run.
The disciples fight to free Jesus from the guards; people get hurt, then when that doesn’t work they run,
maybe just to save themselves, maybe to regroup and fight at a place where they would have a better advantage
And neither option seems to help the situation.
And that’s where we can be.
Caught in that place where we either fight or run and we are not sure if either will make any significant difference.
But there is a third option, the one that Jesus offers us; neither fight nor flight, but seeking a chance to heal.
Look at Northern Ireland.
The peace was not won by Britain defeating the IRA.
The peace was not won by the IRA driving the British army out of Ireland.
The peace was achieved when people got fed up of the needless deaths and seeing that revenge and killing of the enemy wasn’t leading anywhere but to more death and destruction.
The peace wasn’t won by getting rid of one last Protestant or one last Catholic. The peace was won when people sought to find a place of healing.
And that’s where we find ourselves today.
We honour those who died because they hoped for peace.
We pray that we may learn from our mistakes so that at some point in our future we may learn that running away from problems isn’t the answer, and trying to eliminate the enemy so that our problem goes away isn’t the answer.
We pray for that because if we don’t then our children and other peoples children will die because we didn’t seek peace.
Fortunately we can do more than just pray.
We can be like Jesus, we can hear his cries of pain, we can seek healing, touch our enemy for good and give them the opportunity to hear us.
That is what Christ did, that is why he is called the Prince of Peace.
Not because he took up arms and fought and defeated his enemies,
not because he put such fear into his enemies that they dare not attack him,
but because he healed...even those who came to harm him.
We may not be able to follow his example on a world scale.
But in our own way we deal with conflict all the time,
within our homes, between our neighbours, with our friends,
and when we face conflict we will have the choice of fight or flight, that is the nature of things,
but maybe, just maybe, every now and again we can have the courage to see that neither will help, but instead follow the example of our Lord, and seek a time and a place of healing.
Let us pray
Often we feel isolated and alone, feel that our contribution to the worlds affairs is so small and insignificant that we see no point in carrying on.
Show us the truth that we are part of a community that cares.
Part of a society that has structures that create defence of our nation, that create institutions of healthcare and social care, that lead initiatives in education and protect us from the evils of others.
Society as a whole has a dream to make this world a more just, a more peaceful, a healthier place to live. And there are so many that are dedicated in their lives and workplaces to achieve that goal.
God of healing;
We know you look to us to be part of a world
that seeks to heal and not stoke division,
that seeks to build bridges of care and support,
that seeks to lift up the poor and disadvantaged,
that seeks to bring about your kingdom is the words that we say and the actions that we perform.
Give us the vision, the wisdom, the courage and perseverance that we will need to make a difference.
And though our differences be small, may they ripple out.
May peace within our heart lead to peace within our relationships.
May peace within our relationships bring peace within our neighbourhoods, may peace within our neighbourhoods spread though our county, our country and the nations of the world.
Bit by bit may our communities be places that encourage peace and growth, so that your kingdom may be seen on earth, and your hope reaches out to all.
This we ask in Jesus name.
Before we go I would just like to remind you that if you want to be part of our live services then you can book a place for our 10.30am and 3pm Sunday services by phoning me at 01259 760262 between 6-9pm Monday to Friday.
May God cradle you in love.
May God gently comfort you.
May God whisper tenderly to you his forgiveness.
And may God bring you peace.