Remembrance Day service of Peace and Reconciliation

Processional hymn    (Please stand) (The wreaths are taken to the altar) 

I Vow to Thee My Country

  1. I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above
    Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love

The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best

The love that never falters, the love that pays the price
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

  1. And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago
    Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know

We may not count her armies, we may her King.
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering

And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace

(by Cecil Spring-Rice – 1859 to 1918) 

Welcome (Please sit)

Minister: We are here to worship Almighty God, whose purposes are good; whose power sustains the world He has made; who loves us, though we have failed in His service; who gave Jesus Christ for the life of the world; who by His Holy Spirit leads us in His way.

As we give thanks for His great works, we remember those who have lived and died in His service and in the service of others: we pray for all who suffer through war and are in need: we ask for His help and blessing that we may do His will, and that the whole world may acknowledge Him as Lord and King.

Confession

Minister: We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

Therefore we say together.

Almighty God, we confess our sins and shortcomings, our pride, selfishness and greed: all evil and hatred that divides us from our fellow humans. We confess to you our share in what is wrong, our failure to seek and establish the peace you want for all people. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.

The minister offers the promise of God’s mercy. 

Our Reading is taken the Gospel According to – John Chap: 15

9 I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love.

10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.

13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.

14 And you are my friends if you do what I command you.

15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father.

16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.

17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another. 

These are the words of Christ

All: Thanks be to God 

Thoughts for Remembrance Sunday 2023

Today is a time of thanksgiving and reflection. We offer to God, and to all those who have died, been injured, or affected in any way, by war our grateful and heartfelt thanks, and we reflect on their suffering and sacrifice so that we may have our freedom today.

I still can’t get my head around the statistics of the First World War alone. It was a war in which some 65 million men were mobilised. Nearly a third were wounded. Some 8.5 million were killed. So as we look around the state of the world today, it is a  time to pray for peace.

So I don’t think that today is a day for some deep theological discussion about the Christian rights and wrongs of war. Or where was God in the war? Don’t get me wrong. Very valid questions, but I don’t think that today is the day.

So instead, I would like to share 3 short reflections with you which I hope you will agree, and quite poignant to reflect upon today.

And the first is this:

It should have been the happiest time of their lives. Albert and Florence Penn had not long been married, and she found that she was pregnant.

The beautiful couple from the village of Hasland, near Chesterfield, were expecting their first child and looking forward to the rest of their lives together.

They’d met at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in the village, where he ran the boys’ Bible class and she ran the equivalent for girls.

Devout and sincere Christians, their lives focused around the little chapel, and they now had a new focus in their home.

But the war changed all that. In 1916, Albert volunteered. At first he was refused because Florence was pregnant. ‘Come back when the baby is three months old,’ he was told.

He did. Eight months later, when baby Mary Estelle was just 11 months old, he was dead.

Albert died at Passchendaele on 30 October 1917. He was 28 years old. His body was never found. His name is listed among the missing soldiers on the Tynecot Memorial, near Ypres.

A member of Albert’s Bible class from home was being stretchered away from the front when he saw Albert.

‘My grandfather was standing outside in the open field with a Bible in hand finishing a talk to the young soldiers,’ says his granddaughter, Cynthia Hardiman.

He then led them in singing the hymn “Rejoice the Lord is King, your Lord and King adore”.’

 

Five days later, Albert and his regiment went over the top.

Despite the tragedy, Cynthia says this last known story about Albert, gave Florence, a widow at 23, solace.

‘That was something really good for my grandmother to hang on to,’ she says. ‘She knew that he was still at heart the leader of the young men’s Bible class to the very end.

She channeled her activities into the church. She always said that he was a better Christian than she was. His faith was very important to him. But they were both concerned about young people and getting them to know God.’

Now a century later, and the preaching gene lives strong in Albert’s family. His granddaughter Cynthia was a Methodist minister until retirement, and married a Baptist minister.

She says,

‘In that situation, in a war, he was still preaching. He was still encouraging young fellas and trying to keep up morale.

‘I like to think that, in that terrible time, he didn’t keep the faith, the faith kept him.’

The second is a train trip to Scotland that I went on.

Because it was a charter train, we had to pull into a siding so that a timetabled express could overtake us. That siding was at Quintinshill, the site of the worst ever train accident in the UK. There were, in fact, 2 collisions.

The first occurred when a southbound troop train travelling from Scotland to Liverpool collided with the stationary local train. A minute later, the wreckage was struck by a northbound sleeping car express train travelling from London to Glasgow. Gas from the gas lighting system of the old wooden carriages of the troop train ignited, starting a fire which soon engulfed all five trains.

Only half the soldiers on the troop train survived. Those killed were mainly Territorial soldiers from the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion, the Royal Scots heading for Gallipoli. The precise death toll was never established with confidence as some bodies were never recovered, having been wholly consumed by the fire, while the roll list of the regiment was also destroyed in the fire. The official death toll was 227 (215 soldiers, 9 passengers and three railway employees).

But the most poignant comment was over the tannoy in the carriage: if the soldiers hadn’t died in the train fire, they were due to fight in France, and would almost certainly have died there 2 weeks later.

And the third is this:

The Poppy used on Remembrance Sunday is a symbol of sacrifice by brave men and women in warfare, and we, the Christian Church, also have a symbol of sacrifice in the Cross of Jesus

So what is so special about a poppy on Remembrance Day? Why not use another flower?

Scarlet poppies grow naturally in conditions of disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century, transformed bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers.

In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as the First World War raged through Europe’s heart.

The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realised by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made by his comrades and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in the First World War and later conflicts.

Here are a few lines from the poem In Flanders Fields: 

‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.’

When fighting ceased in 1918 the mud of the battlefields was allowed to rest and nature began to be restored and before long the wild flowers grew and bloomed including the poppy.

The colour of red, reminded people of bloodshed and the sacrifice by millions of brave soldiers of their lives. And so the poppy became the symbol of sacrifice.

We, in the Christian Church, also have a symbol. It’s the Cross of Jesus. One of His great sayings is:

 ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).

That’s what He did for us. And that’s also what our forefathers did for us.

Let us just reflect on these thoughts for a few moments.

Amen. 

Hymn – Be Still my Soul

(tune: Finlandia by Sibelius)

  1. Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
    bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
    leave to your God to order and provide;
    in ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
    Be still, my soul: your best, your heav’nly Friend
    through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
  2. Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
    to guide the future as he has the past.
    Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
    all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
    Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
    his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
  3. Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
    and all is darkened in the vale of tears,
    then shall you better know his love, his heart,
    who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
    Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
    from his own fullness all he takes away.
  4. Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
    when we shall be forever with the Lord,
    when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
    sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
    Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
    all safe and blessed we shall meet at last
    .        (by Kathrina von Schlege 1750

Act of Remembrance 

(all stand)

Let us remember before God those who have died for their country in war, those whom we know and whose memory we treasure: and all who have lived and died in the service of

mankind.

We are Silent

Voice 1:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn;

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

All: We will remember them.

Voice 2: 

When you go home Tell them of us and say For your tomorrow We gave our today.

Minister: Lord God, you hold both heaven and earth in a single peace. Let the design of your great love shine on the waste of our anger and sorrows. Give peace to your church, peace among nations, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts. In Jesus Christ our Lord.

All  Amen.

Prayers (please sit or kneel,) 

We say together

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 trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever.

Amen.

Prayers

Our prayers are led by a church member. 

Offertory Hymn – Eternal Father, Strong to Save

  1. Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!
     
  1. O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
    And hushed their raging at Thy word,
    Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
    And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!
     
  1. Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
    Upon the chaos dark and rude,
    And bid its angry tumult cease,
    And give, for wild confusion, peace;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!
     
  1. O Trinity of love and power!
    Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
    From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
    Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
    Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
    Glad hymns of praise from land and sea
    .(by William Whiring – 1825 to 1878)

Act Of Commitment

We commit ourselves this day to working with God’s Holy Spirit to bring in God’s Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, you came in Jesus to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom to the captives, and salvation to

Minister: Your people. Anoint us with your Spirit and rouse us to work in His name. Father by your Spirit:

All: Bring in Your Kingdom.

Minister: Send us to bring help to the poor and freedom to the oppressed. Father by your Spirit:

All: Bring in Your Kingdom

Minister: Send us to tell the Good News of your healing love. Father by your Spirit: 

All: Bring in Your Kingdom

Minister: Send us to proclaim that the time is here for You to save Your people.

Father by your Spirit:

All: Bring in Your Kingdom

Minister: Lord of the church:

All: Here our prayer, and make us one in heart and mind

to serve you with joy for ever.

Amen. 

(Please stand as we sing) 

National Anthem

  1. God save our gracious King!
    Long live our noble King!
    God save the King!
    Send hin victorious,
    Happy and glorious,
    Long to reign over us,
    God save the King.
     
  1. Thy choicest gifts in store
    On him be pleased to pour,
    Long may he
    May he defend our laws,
    And ever give us cause,
    To sing with heart and voice,
    God save the King.
     

Closing Blessings

Creator God,

you give seed for us to sow,

and bread for us to eat;

make us thankful for what we have received

and generous in supplying the needs of others

so all the world may give you thanks and glory,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Recessional Hymn – O God Our Help in Ages Past

(During which the wreaths are returned. Please follow the crossbearer out of the church to the War Memorial.)

  1. O God, our help in ages past,
    our hope for years to come,
    our shelter from the stormy blast,
    and our eternal home:

2,  Under the shadow of your throne
your saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is your arm alone,
and our defence is sure.

  1. Before the hills in order stood,
    or earth received her frame,
    from everlasting you are God,
    to endless years the same.
  2. A thousand ages in your sight
    are like an evening gone;
    short as the watch that ends the night
    before the rising sun.
  3. Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
    bears all its sons away;
    they fly forgotten, as a dream
    dies at the opening day.
  4. Our God, our help in ages past,
    our hope for years to come:
    O be our guard while troubles last,
    and our eternal home.
    (by Isaac Watts, 1719)

© 702211