Sunday Sermon 14th Nov - Remembrance
The chosen hymns for this week, Behold the mountain of the Lord, and Make me a channel of your peace, For the healing of the nation, and Lord in love and perfect witness can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.
Order of Service
(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)
Children’s Address (Michelle)
Hymn 528: Make me a channel of your peace
Reading: Psalm 16
Hymn 706: For the healing of the nation
Hymn 702: Lord in love and perfect witness
(give out the flags)
Welcome to our time of reflection for Sunday 14th November.
This is our service of Remembrance, a time for us to reflect on the conflict of the past and how we should move forward.
I am very aware that there is security, and then there is the feeling of security, and they are two very different things.
What I feel is even weirder is that we rarely base our actions of the reality of security, but we do base our actions on our feelings of security, whether those feelings are factual or not.
It is 1993.
Roseanna and I are going out for the first time since our baby daughter Iona was born.
We are meant to go out for a meal and then go out to the cinema.
My daughter Iona is perfectly safe.
We could have decided to put the safety of our precious daughter into the hands of a complete stranger who secretly was a psychopath but we didn’t do that.
Instead we left our daughter in the hands of my mum and dad.
Our daughter couldn’t have been in safer hands.
Not only did my parents wish only the best for baby Iona.
They had brought up three children of their own who were all doing well, and helped to bring up two other grandchildren.
Not only that, we had experience of them as babysitters because they had in the past babysat Iona’s two big brothers and nothing at all had happened to them while they were being babysat.
Iona was perfectly safe.
And yet, and yet, we arrived at the restaurant and Roseanna phoned my mum and dad to see how things were getting on.
She phoned halfway through the meal and at the end of the meal.
And we gave up on going to the cinema because Rosanna felt that two hours in a cinema when we would be out of contact with them was just too much.
Here’s the strange thing.
When we got home...
The house was not on fire, it was as if nothing of any significance had happened while we were out
Baby Iona wasn’t screaming, she was perfectly calm, sleeping in her bed.
Fear stopped us from enjoying the night we had planned.
I am aware that at the very start of lockdown we had many people who were afraid.
They were afraid that they would run out of toilet roll.
This was a huge problem.
To this day I don’t know why it was a problem. Maybe they were scared that COVID gave you a runny nose and there wouldn’t be enough toilet paper for people to stick up their noses to stop them running.
But that then caused a run on foodstuffs.
Suddenly things like flour weren’t available, people were stocking up on all foodstuffs like bread and milk.
There were restrictions imposed on how much food you could get, but then people went to two or three shops and got more than they were supposed to get so there was still a shortage of some foods.
People were getting frustrated and angry.
We were afraid and getting more and more afraid.
And it wasn’t because there was shortages: the governments kept on telling us that there was enough food.
It was because we didn’t feel as if there was enough food.
The more I read about the politics before, during and after the world wars,
the more I read about conflicts throughout the world,
the more I realise that so often they didn’t need to take place.
People in power felt insecure, people in power felt their influence was waning.
People in power felt they needed to act to look strong in the face of their enemy:
that they couldn’t back down and so actions were taken and countries got themselves backed into corners and then destruction happened.
Look at our recent war in Afghanistan; a 20 year conflict.
The Watson Institute did research and discovered that
457 British Soldiers died
Over 7,000 American soldiers died.
Over 73,000 Afghanistan police and army were killed.
Over 300,000 Afghanistan civilians died.
Between Afghanistan and other conflicts caused by a direct result of the 9/11 air crashes over 38 million refugees have been displaced.
And at the end of it all what did we really achieve?
A country that hates western influence and will suspect anything we do in the area for decades.
The possibility of the worst famine in that area ever, and the real worry that half the population of Afghanistan could suffer real food shortages.
What we didn’t achieve was a more stable country.
What we didn’t achieve was the feeling that that area of the world was safer now.
What we didn’t achieve was the feeling that our own country was now safer because of our actions.
Let me give you a suggestion.
This suggestion is that the writer of Psalm 16 felt at peace, felt hope, felt safe.
And that is kind of strange.
Because the writer of Psalm 16 was a man called David.
Here’s what gets me. I want to know how David could feel peace, he should have felt more insecure and frightened than any of us?
David spent most of his early adulthood hiding from a despotic king who used every resource he had to kill him.
David was so desperate to avoid King Saul that he hid in the Israelite enemies country, Philistine. Now that was a very scary thing to do because the Philistines remembered David because in the past he had killed their champion Goliath and caused the death of many of their soldiers.
Every military leader in Philistia, every relative of a soldier that had died in that battle, every Philistine that had any patriotic blood in their veins would feel they had a right to kill David for what he did to them that day.
Yet that was regarded as a safer place to stay than within his own country with King Saul trying to kill him.
The only way David survived in Philistine territory was by pretending to be mad, that he had some brain injury that made him act like an idiot. He had become a focus of humiliation in the Philistine court. And he had to take it all, because if they suspected he was acting then they would have killed him slowly themselves, instead he was the butt off all their fun.
For decades David was looking over his shoulder for any sign of danger.
What David faced was real insecurity, real fear, not feelings of insecurity and fear, but real reasons for fear.
And yet listen to him
Protect me O God; I trust in you for safety.
You, Lord, are all that I have, and you give me all that I need, my future is in your hands.
I am always aware of the Lord’s presence, he is near, and nothing can shake me.
I am so thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure.
I think that is because David learnt something precious that we forget.
I think we believe that the opposite of fear is peace.
But peace in itself is very fragile, maybe because we seek peace in what we have and how easy we find it to protect what we have.
We think we will have peace if we have more money, or a better house in a better neighbourhood.
We think we will have greater peace if we have more than other people, or our country has more or a bigger army.
And none of that gives us real peace.
Too often the more that we have, the more we have to lose, and that makes us more afraid.
The truth that David had learnt was that the opposite of fear, is not peace, it is trust.
In David’s case trust in God.
David knew armies could be defeated.
David knew wealth didn’t guarantee health.
David knew that getting to the top of the hill didn’t protect you from all the others that wanted to take your spot.
He had learnt that following God, following God’s path for him, no matter where it leads would give security, would give peace.
Because trust banishes fear.
I was ten years of age; I had fallen off a cliff edge and smashed my face off the rocks as I fell face first into the rocks. Part of my face had been torn off, I was losing a lot of blood. Although I didn’t know it at the time my eyesight would be affected for the rest of my life.
It was probably the first time that my life was seriously in danger of dying.
And yet I wasn’t scared, because my dad was with me, my dad was taking me to the hospital, and I knew that I would be all right.
I was in the hands of someone who loved me more than he loved himself, and he would do everything to keep me safe.
I believe we are all in the hands of someone who loves us more than my dad ever could.
I believe that we are in the hands of a loving God who wants to guide and help us, if only we will trust him.
I believe that if we can trust him, we will truly know peace.
So what will it be?
Fighting out of fear of losing what we have?
Or trusting our security in the hands of a loving God?
Personally I have lived a life of fear, and I have lived a life of trust...I am far more content in my life when I have trust.
Let us pray
We too often spend out life alone.
We walk with ear plugs in, isolating ourselves from others, trying to avoid contact with strangers, suspicious of all.
And as we walk we pass by adverts with people smiling and happy and spontaneously enjoying life with others.
We long for fellowship, but we are scared to talk to others.
So our life becomes a competition with others, seeking more than they have, thinking that security comes with having more than our neighbour.
Help us instead to have trust.
To know the assurance that we are never alone.
That your love, your guidance, your courage is there for us,
so that we can reach out to others,
and realise that they are just like us,
equally seeking fellowship, equally realising that there is more to life than living life alone.
May we have the courage to share our life, and in sharing, find we have more than we could ever want.
This we ask in Jesus name