Monday, 14 November 2016

Remembrance Sunday at Great Brickhill

12 November 2016


Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. All Amen.

Old Testament Micah 4:1—5

The mountain of the Lord

In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
    and peoples will stream to it.

2 Many nations will come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.’
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He will judge between many peoples
    and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into ploughshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war any more.
4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
    and under their own fig-tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
    for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
5 All the nations may walk
    in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord
    our God for ever and ever.


Love for enemies

‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


What is Remembrance all about? Giving thanks for sacrifice of all those who served in armed forces for country to maintain and preserve peace and freedom and oppose evil. Our promise – ‘we will remember them.’

What not about? — glorifying war. Glamorising conflict. Making out that armed conflict is somehow desirable. It is not. It is a failure.

My generation too young to remember WW2. Born 1947. Have been wars throughout my lifetime. Fear of Cold War. Nuclear age. Arsenals big enough to obliterate human kind. Dr Strangelove. Bay of Pigs.

This feeling is back — ‘war on terror’ — fear of attack going about daily business — wars in name of religions, faiths or sects.

Now added poignancy of tragedy of young men and women killed or maimed through war. Remembrance now as popular as Harvest.

But this service is not about all that. It’s about Peace. How to avoid war.

I don’t have the answer – but I can say something about our faith and what it tells us about Peace.

Book of James poses this question:
From James 4: 1, 6-7
What causes wars and fighting among you?
Is it not your selfishness at war inside your hearts? Greed, pride, envy etc.
But God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

Peace is God’s gift to us. Those who work for peace are specially favoured by Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says:
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.

As long ago as time of Micah, the prophet foretold a time when wars would cease:
He will settle disputes among the nations, among the great powers near and far. They will hammer their swords into ploughs and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will never again go to war, never prepare for battle again. Everyone will live in peace among his own vineyards and fig trees, and no one will make him afraid. The Lord Almighty has promised this. Micah 4

This time, which we call the Kingdom of God, is not yet come, or only partially here. My and my father’s and grandfather’s generation made a mess of the 20th century. Yours is the responsibility to do better.

If the answer lies in the peace of God, then the voice of truth must not be masked by a perverted view of religion, where a faith based on peace and brotherhood is used to justify terrorism and hate.

I’m not just talking about Islamist terrorism – Christians have been responsible for many acts of barbarity over hundreds of years as a perversion of their faith.

I said I don’t have an answer. Perhaps I do. Love God, and love your neighbour. Isn’t that what it all comes down to? Removing misunderstanding and fear. Walking in each other’s moccasins. Striving for the peace that comes from Christ.

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. Anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Prayer at the Memorial

Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of

conflict, and ask that God may give us


for the service men and women who have

died in the violence of war, each one

remembered by and known to God;

for those who love them in death as in life,

offering the distress of our grief and the

sadness of our loss;

for all members of the armed forces who

are in danger this day, remembering

family, friends and all who pray for their

safe return;

for civilian women, children and men

whose lives are disfigured by war or terror,

calling to mind in penitence the anger and

hatreds of humanity;

for peace-makers and peace-keepers, who

seek to keep this world secure and free;

for all who bear the burden and privilege

of leadership, political, military and

religious; asking for gifts of wisdom and

resolve in the search for reconciliation and


O God of truth and justice,

we hold before you those whose memory

we cherish,

and those whose names we will never


Help us to lift our eyes above the torment

of this broken world,

and grant us the grace to pray for those

who wish us harm.

As we honour the past, may we put our

faith in your future;

for you are the source of life and hope,

now and for ever.


Sunday, 6 November 2016


3rd Sunday before Advent – 6 November 2016 at SS Peter & Paul Wingrave


‘When you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. I will let you find me,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes.’ Jeremiah 29.12,14

Invitation to Confession

Christ calls us to share the heavenly banquet of his love with all the saints in earth and heaven. Knowing our unworthiness and sin, let us ask from him both mercy and forgiveness.


Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Epistle II Thessalonians 2

The man of lawlessness
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us – whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter – asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to stand with confidence before the Son of man. Alleluia.

Gospel Luke 20

The resurrection and marriage
Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless.30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?’

34 Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.’


All Saints to Advent—gospel reading about marriage of deceased brother’s wife sounds odd and archaic, if not irrelevant to modern ears. We know—trick question—handled by Jesus—used to say something about salvation.

Could talk about Sadducees and Pharisees, destruction of Temple by Romans in 70AA, beliefs about resurrection—better to base sermon on salvation.

Other texts this Sunday focus on death and resurrection too—but Paul in II Thess. writes about salvation—more in the ‘here and now’ than the afterlife.

Epistle readings cane be hard going—long complex sentences—dense theological arguments—exhortations about behavior. Benedictine monks practice lectio divina—in today’s epistle reading you might stop and reflect on first fruits in vv13-14.

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Much to rejoice about—much to reflect on.

Peter George grew tomato plants—first fruits the best—burst with flavour—hot from sun—no blemishes or damage.

You are first fruits—chosen by God—loved by him. What is our obligation? What do we have to do in return? What pre-conditions are there?

Two requirements only—belief in the truth—sanctified by Holy Spirit—so that’s one as the other depends on allowing yourself to be influenced by work of God’s Spirit—lost sheep that waits to be found.

Naturally our response is to live our lives as befits God’s chosen people—not as Israelites failed to do in Sinai—but as children of God. How come the difference?—wanderings in Sinai OT—pre-Christ—dependent on justification through sacrifice by priests and deeds of Law—now in Christ belief in the truth is sufficient.

In today’s gospel, Jesus said:

35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead … can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

Did you realise that’s how God regards you and me? Like his children? Like the angels? As those taking part in the age to come? Sharing in his glory? His words not mine.

This means there’s nothing we can do to qualify—only believe and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. Did you know you are being sanctified each moment—you are being made holy. This is good news for those of us who worry we have not done enough, and cannot see a way of being one of the elect. When you are reminded of the themes of death and resurrection from the other texts read today—remember II Thess. Links resurrection with salvation.

God’s grace still demands a response—cannot sit around and wait for salvation to come to us—rather we are to be comforted by the gospel that we are strengthened in every good work.

Whatever our situation, ability, age, or anything else we are still called to be good news to all people. This is because God is with us—all we have to do is open ourselves up to the working of the Holy Spirit, and not rely on ourselves alone—if we do that, however smart we think we are, we will surely fail.

Kingdom of Heaven
Is this what Jesus means when he refers to the Kingdom having come close to us on earth?—that we are living in the presence of God as inheritors and sharing in his glory?—is this not the sign of the Kingdom here with us on earth?

Whilst this may be a pale reflection of what is to come—still means we can experience something of salvation right now, and not only in the end time. Heaven—breaking through into our own reality.

With such a knowledge and experience to call on—how can we fail to reach out to others and share the good news that is within us? We are God’s first fruits—chosen and sanctified by God. First fruits are only the beginning.


Intercessions All Saints to Advent

We pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. You sent your Son to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom to captives and salvation to your people: anoint us with your Spirit; rouse us to work in his name.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to bring help to the poor and freedom to the oppressed.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to tell the world the good news of your healing love.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to those who mourn, to bring joy and gladness instead of grief.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to proclaim that the time is here for you to save your people.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Lord of the Church, hear our prayer, and make us one in mind and heart to serve you in Christ our Lord. Amen.


May the God of peace sanctify you: may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before him at the coming of our Lord Jesus with his saints


God of life, saviour of the poor, receive with this money gratitude for your goodness, penitence for our pride and dedication to your service in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Preparation of the Table

To you we come, Father of lights, with angels and saints, where heaven and earth unite. May Jesus meet us in the breaking of the bread. Amen.

Short Preface

And now we give you thanks because in him you have received us as your sons and daughters, joined us in one fellowship with the saints, and made us citizens of your kingdom.

Extended Preface A, B, E

It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should always sing of your glory, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. For you are the hope of the nations, the builder of the city that is to come. Your love made visible in Jesus Christ brings home the lost, restores the sinner and gives dignity to the despised. In his face your light shines out, flooding lives with goodness and truth, gathering into one in your kingdom a divided and broken humanity. Therefore with all who can give voice in your creation we glorify your name, forever praising you and saying:

Post Communion

You have opened to us the Scriptures, O Christ, and you have made yourself known in the breaking of the bread. Abide with us, we pray, that, blessed by your royal presence, we may walk with you all the days of our life, and at its end behold you in the glory of the eternal Trinity, one God for ever and ever. Amen.


Christ give you grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow him; and the blessing …