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.


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