(Flags enter before Hymn sung)
Call to worship
As the colours come in there will be a roll call of those who died during the Two World Wars.
Hymn 715: Behold the mountain of the Lord
(Receive the wreaths)
Hymn 710: I have a dream
Reading: Joshua 6: 1-5* & 15-19**
Hymn 716: Come and find the quiet centre
Hymn 702: Lord in love and perfect wisdom
(give out the flags)
Welcome to our reflection for 12th November Remembrance Sunday.
Today’s we reflect on Remembrance. A tough subject when so much of the world is at war just now.
Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
How are we supposed to react, whose side are we meant to be on?
We will think about these things after our reading and prayer for today.
Remember, if you are struggling and you would like our prayer group to pray for you then please contact us at revjimalvakirk@gmail .com
Joshua 6: 1-5
To be read beforer first reading.
The people have travelled from slavery in Egypt to the borders of the Promised Land, as they cross over the river Jordon God tells them that he will drive out the people there so that it will be their land.
The phrase God uses is drive out, not kill.
So here we have the famous battle of Jericho. Jericho was thought of as an impenetrable city state blocking the entrance of God’s people into the Promised Land.
God is giving them the way through to the Promised Land.
But often there is a gap between what God says, and what people hear.
Notice that God gives his instructions here.
They are to walk round the city for seven days, and if they act in trust then the walls will come down and the army can enter the city.
He doesn’t tell them what the army is to do in the city, but remember that God has used the words ‘drive out.’
And God has given Joshua the power to drive them out.
And now we read how Joshua interprets how to do that.
Joshua 6: 15-19.
**Reflecting on that passage makes me wonder.
If Joshua hadn’t killed any of those people; instead just let them go,
I wonder if they would have run to the other city states in the Promised Land, spread fear about a people who can destroy cities without weapons. That God was so on their side that anyone who fought against them had no chance.
But if people just run away, then they will leave them be.
What message would that have sent out?
That the people of each of those city states would just have ran as their army would have a choice of running away safely with their families or fighting and being wiped out.
Instead the city states saw only death if they gave up, so why not fight to the death.
And because of that how many of Joshua’s army died that didn’t need to.
Let us pray
Living with you can be uncomfortable.
We would like to hold you tight to us, love you to be our treasure, hold you to ourselves so that we control you...because you would be our God.
And as our God you would want to care for us.
As our God you would have to protect us no matter how irresponsible we had been.
As our God you would have to make sure that we didn’t suffer the consequences of our actions.
We’d feel very secure and certain, with you on our side doing what we want you to do. Helping us out of our mess because you love us, no matter what we do.
Removing our problems rather than forcing us to sort things out.
And when we try to live like that we find nothing but frustration.
We base our beliefs on our own self created certainties.
We draw up our own blueprint of how our relationship should be and try to force you into it.
But you refuse to pander to our childishness and expectations.
Each time we try to grasp how our faith should be and try to make it all neat and tidy something comes along to disturb it and force us to rethink.
We catch glimpses of you, and try to cage you pn.
But lightening-quick you slip away, refusing to be tied down.
Forcing us to chase after you, to seek new horizons, to push ourselves to new levels of understanding, to unimagined, strange insights of what is expected of us.
Lord, you are not an easy going God.
We would love to meet you by a nice cosy fire, sitting in an armchair with our slippers on and just relaxing.
But that’s not how you work.
More often than not you are outside in the rain, trying to patch up the leaking roof of someone who is struggling, inviting us to join you make the world better for the less well off.
Telling us that there is more to life than comfort.
That there is more to life than we can ever know, and that if we are brave enough, that you will share it with us as we walk the uncertain path.
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, for ever.
I have been vexed over the situation in Israel.
We have had nearly a hundred years of continuous conflict in that wee part of land.
The Palestinians claiming that their land has been, and still is, stolen and they have every right to use force to get their land back.
The Israelis claiming it is their land and they have every right to defend it
I feel a deep sadness for all of those who have lost someone because of the conflict.
Sometimes it feels like the land is the most important thing.
That if they looked back on all the children that had been lost on both sides they would see that when it came a choice between giving up their claims to the land, and giving up their children, it seems that it has always been the children that have been sacrificed.
I am sure that that is not the way either side would look at it.
But at a practical level, how many children have died for that small piece of land.
What is even more horrific is that although both sides claim that what they really want is peace, neither have been able to trust the other to work towards a peace that would benefit both sides.
I suspect that each side believes that peace will only come with the annihilation of the other side.
I suspect that most Palestinians believe that the Israelis really want to just kill them all.
I suspect that most Israelis believe that the Palestinians really want to just kill them all.
Each has made the other into a monster, and a monster deserves no pity, no mercy.
But what can we do about it?
Maybe the worst thing we can do is just give up and believe that there is nothing we can do about it.
Maybe the worst thing our politicians can do is believe that there is only one answer to violence; and that is to face violence with violence.
I can understand the call to violence.
The feeling that we need to lash out at those who hurt us.
The feeling that those who deal violence only understand violence.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Unfortunately the long term effect of that those feelings is that the only safe way to feel safe is genocide,
destroy the other before they destroy you,
nullify the threat,
remove the danger.
As we read in our first passage...it has always seemed the only true solution.
I don’t know if you noticed this. But God told Joshua what to do to claim the city. God said nothing about what to do with the people.
It was Joshua who felt that the best solution was to kill off everyone.
But let me give you another option.
Let me give you the situation.
After Joshua and the people fought and won the Promised Land, they then had no peace...because people continued to fight over the land.
The example they had was that the powerful can always take away from the weak.
So when they felt powerful they attacked Israel.
Wars followed wars followed wars.
I want to now give another reading.
It is hundreds of years later. We have a perpetual pattern of war, then fragile peace, then war then fragile peace. Sometimes one lot dominate, other times the other lot dominate.
And at this point in their history the Syrian king feels that he can defeat Israel if he can just do a surgical strike and kill the Isrealite king.
But there is a prophet, Elisha, who forewarns the king of Israel about the various ambushes set up against him.
Eventually the king of Syria finds out about this and decides to send an army to kill Elisha.
From 2 Kings 6: 15-23.
Elisha found another way to deal with his enemies...to treat them with humanity. And the end result was that war against that people stopped.
I think the greatest sadness of what is happening in Israel just now is that it has been a catastrophic disaster in diplomacy.
We have had 50 years of hatred.
50 years of demonising the other.
50 years of trying to batter the opposition into submission.
And what has it achieved?
And the greatest sadness is that both sides could look back on those 50 years and decide to do something different.
But I suspect instead all they will do is use the hurt and pain of the last 50 years to justify causing hurt to their oppositions.
What can we do?
I pray we learn from them and do not follow their example.
Because what they have done in such a large scale, we do in small scale in our own lives.
I have seen it in conflicts within families.
Conflicts between neighbours.
Conflicts between political parties and even within political parties.
We demonise the other, we make them into monsters, and that justifies us doing whatever we want, because monsters deserve no pity, no mercy.
The problem is that when we do that...the monster we create is within ourselves.
Maybe there is another way to look at this conflict.
A few weeks ago my best friend had a heart attack.
My wife and I went to visit him in the hospital and what struck us first of all was how serious the situation was, and also how little we could do.
We couldn’t fix him.
Neither of us had the surgical skills to operate on him and either fix or restrict the damage that had been done to his heart.
The situation was beyond us to do much good.
We could wish the situation was different, that different choices had been made earlier to prevent this situation from ever arising.
That maybe if we had warned him that the diet he was following and the lack of exercise and the continual stressful situations he was in were damaging him.
But the truth is that we had warned him, he knew the situation he lived in, but he was hoping he could get away with it.
But now it was too late for warnings.
And wishing things different wasn’t achieving anything.
There are three things we could do however.
We could hand the problem over to those better trained to deal with it.
Which we did, we trusted our prayers to God and to the cardiologists.
We could support him during this time. Encourage him, give him hope that things could get better.
And we could learn from his mistakes.
We could look at our own lives and see if we were following a similar path, and change our ways.
I suspect that that is what Elisha did.
Elisha saw in his enemies, humanity.
If he had killed them then the Syrian king would just have sent a bigger group to kill him.
The war would have carried on.
Elisha saw a better way.
Treat those he was in conflict with humanely.
There may not be much we can do about the conflicts round the world except trust our prayers to those better than us, that they may use their skills to make a difference.
We can support the humanity on all sides.
And as we consider the conflicts we have personally fought in; with friends, neighbours, even family, we can reflect on the cost of those victories.
And think that maybe it is time to ask ourselves if there is a better way to face our battles.
Let us pray
Prayer from Rabbi Pete Tobias from the Glasgow Reform Synagogue.
(Thought for the day Radio Scotland 16/10/23)
God of Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac,
God of every human on this fragile earth.
Help me recognise the good that dwells within me, the potential that’s created at my birth.
Help me understand the future of this planet will not be shaped by missiles, tanks or guns.
Let me see that to use your name to justify our hatred is just nonsense.
Help me learn that we’re the ones in whom resides the choice of good or evil,
That our destiny is in our hearts and hands.
That rockets bringing murder and destruction was not the role of humans in your plans.
As I look upon the wreckage of the building where I lived and where I used to call my home,
as I watch my father clutch my broken sister to his heart which turns from flesh and blood to stone, swearing cold revenge on those who made this happen...
speak to me, I beg you God, with different lines...
Remind me that this is not what you wanted
Plant in me a vision of a future time where our goals are not to rectify a grievance or to claim some territory we think we own.
But to find an answer to your constant question...asking us if we have learned, if we have grown.
So help us God of Abraham and Ishmael, God of Isaac and of everyone there is
When we turn to you to ask for hope and guidance
Help us understand that what you want is this,
Not to seek revenge but reconciliation
Not to hate but try instead to understand...that all humans want and ask and need and yearn for...
is to live our lives exactly as you planned,
to appreciate your world and one another,
to plant seeds of love wherever we might dwell,
to raise families in peaceful homes and safety,
and ensure that others live like this as well,
to recognise that you’re in every person,
and see your face in all women and all men.
May we help to bring about this understanding...soon in our days.
And let us say,