GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH, AND EVER-PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE. (Psalm 46:1) THOSE WHO HOPE IN THE LORD WILL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH. THEY WILL SOAR ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES; THEY WILL RUN AND NOT GROW WEARY, THEY WILL WALK AND NOT BE FAINT. (Isaiah 40:31)
We are met this day to glorify God whose power sustains the world; to remember with thanksgiving those who lived and died in the service of our country; and ask for God’s help and blessing, that we may be worthy of their sacrifice each day of our life. Let us worship God, and … Welcome to our service!
INTIMATIONS: – Preparatory Service on Tuesday 10 November, 7pm, and Communion next Sunday the 15 November 2020, 11am.
OPENING HYMN: – (CH-611) – O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home!
Under the shadow of Thy throne Thy saints have dwelt secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defence is sure.
Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy sight are like an evening gone; short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be Thou our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home.
LET US PRAY:
ETERNAL GOD, You are the Shepherd of our souls, the giver of life everlasting. On this day when we commemorate and commend to You those who lived and died in the service of others, we are glad to remember that Your purposes for us are good, that You gave Jesus Christ for the life of the world, and that You lead us by His Holy Spirit into the paths of righteousness and peace. Merciful and faithful God, Your purpose is to fold both earth and heaven in a single peace. With sorrow we confess that in our hearts we keep alive the passions and pride that lead to hatred and to war. We are not worthy of Your love, nor of the sacrifice made by others on our behalf. Almighty God, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal. God of unbounded grace, You declared Your reconciling love and power in the death and resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Teach us, who live only in Your forgiveness, to forgive one another. Heal our divisions, cast out our fears, renew our faith in Your unchanging purpose of goodwill and peace on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN.
Let us now, bow our heads and remember the kindness of God, and His favour to us in our time of need:
LET US REMEMBER the courage, devotion to duty, and the self-sacrifice of the men and women in our armed forces; the toil, endurance, and suffering of those who were not in uniform; the support of those who sent us help from afar, or came and stood by our side. Let us remember those who were wounded in the fight; those who perished in air-raids at home; those who fell in battle, and are buried at sea or in some corner of a foreign field; and especially those whom we have known and loved, whose place is for ever in our hearts. Let us remember those who were our enemies, whose homes and hearts are as bereft as ours, whose dead lie also in a living tomb of everlasting remembrance. Let us remember those who came back; those whose lives still bear the scars of war; those who lost sight or limb or reason; those who lost faith in God and hope in humanity. Let us remember the continuing grace of God, whose love holds all souls in life, and to whom none is dead but alive for ever.
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.
– WE WILL REMEMBER THEM! + SILENCE …
IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO DIED, MAY WE BE BETTER MEN AND WOMEN; AND IN GRATITUDE TO GOD, MAY WE LIVE AS THOSE WHO ARE NOT THEIR OWN BUT WHO ARE BOUGHT WITH PRICE. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – DEUTERONOMY 30: 19 – 20.
THIS DAY I CALL HEAVEN AND EARTH AS WITNESSES AGAINST YOU THAT I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH, BLESSINGS AND CURSES. NOW CHOOSE LIFE, SO THAT YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN MAY LIVE AND THAT YOU MAY LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD, LISTEN TO HIS VOICE, AND HOLD FAST TO HIM. FOR THE LORD IS YOUR LIFE, AND HE WILL GIVE YOU MANY YEARS IN THE LAND HE SWORE TO GIVE TO YOUR FATHERS …
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – JOHN 14: 27.
(JESUS SAID:) – 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.
SO HERE WE STAND AGAIN. A YEAR HAS PASSED. ONCE MORE OUR SORROW TURNS TO MILLIONS KILLED. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? WHAT DO YOU SAY TO US, SOLDIER FROM YOUR ETERNAL SILENCE? DO YOU IMPLORE US TO IMPROVE OUR KILLING EFFICIENCY, TO MAKE BIGGER AND BETTER BOMBS, CONDEMNING MILLIONS MORE TO YOUR SAD FATE? NO – I HEAR YOU PLEAD NOW. I HEAR YOU CRY TO US ACROSS THE YEARS: – “WEEP NOT FOR ME BUT FOR THOSE YET UNBORN! … WHEN YOU STAND HERE AGAIN, WHEN THIS NEXT YEAR HAS PASSED, COME HERE IN CERTAINTY THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN SOME SMALL STEP ALONG A DIFFERENT ROAD… (from: — The Veteran’s Lament – by Bill, World War Two Veteran).
DEATH TOLL in WW1 = 40 million, WW2 = 85 million. During 1918-1919 over 50 million people died of Spanish Flu, or Influenza. In the moment, we are being terrorized by the Coronavirus. We live in what seems to be, at least occasionally, a terrifying AGE OF WARS. Individual acts of bravery and self-sacrifice during a war can be good, but war itself is evil. This is why through the Bible we are urged to choose life with the blessings of God, and not the curse of war, holding fast to Him, and live (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20). Once a war has started, Christian values are pretty much given up: gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, love of enemy, and turning the other cheek are not applicable any longer. In times of war forgiveness of the enemy is not permitted, for it is seen as treason. In this, and many other ways, war is an evil that is much bigger than all of us. War almost never ends in peace: at least, not in the kind of peace where two former enemies embrace one another and sincerely wish one another well. No, war must end in defeat for one and victory for the other. Even ceasefires are usually only a chance to regroup and rearm; to fight again another day, until eventually one of the sides gives up, falls apart, or can no longer defend itself. A war might end when both sides lose, being too exhausted to continue fighting. I would love to hear of a case where both sides WIN, but I know of none. Jesus speaks of His PEACE as where human hearts are not being troubled and people are not afraid (John 14: 27). He knows that His PEACE is not how the world understands peace. Jesus’ PEACE must begin to be developed on an individual and very personal level. Maybe, we cannot make peace with the enemies of our nation, but a Christian definitely can make peace in the individual and personal conflicts. A Christ-like person is one who practices peace that the people around him or her may “catch” peacefulness and become people of peace themselves. Jesus teaches us that when someone offends us, we should pray for them, and call down God’s blessing upon them. Well, it is hard to ask God to bless a person unless we ourselves wish good things for that person, so this is a very good exercise for a Christian.
Christians are first and foremost a people of faith and peace. If caught up in a war, the Christian must choose the side which has the least evil, and then must act with courage and faith. The best of these are celebrated on Remembrance Day: those who gave their lives for the benefit of others; who struggled to uphold the greater good and resisted the greater evil, and deserving the greatest honour both from God and man. But our calling is to be people of faith and peace, turning the other cheek, loving our neighbour as ourselves and loving the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength (Matthew 22: 37- 40). In the brokenness of our world, God is there. In the cry of the hungry, the suffering of the sick, and the sorrow of the bereaved, He is calling our name. In the misery of the lonely, the despair of the oppressed and the helplessness of the weak He is seeking our help, asking for our response. The world is bleeding, and God is bleeding with it, waiting for our hands, our care and our love to help heal the wound. And then, as a miracle, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 7). AMEN.
Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain), (1911-1996), our Scottish-Gaelic poet from Raasay, in one of his poems immortalized the tragic moment when, in Portree School, children were privately told about the death of their loved ones at the Battle of Festubert, on the 22 July 1915, and then, the children being graciously sent home to grieve.
FESTUBERT by Sorley MacLean
Rattle of the little guns
And clangour of the big guns
Heavy doors being shut
With the blast and crash of tempest;
Whizz and whine of the shells
About Festubert and the mud and bloodshed;
Big heavy doors are shutting
On many a brave strong man.
Doors opening quietly
And shut as they were opened:
Boy or girl, or two or three,
taken out of the schoolrooms,
having to go home
down by the Big Bridge,
to the middle of the town,
or south to Lots,
or north to Sluggans,
down to the Pier,
or down to Sligneach,
east to Stormyhill,
or over to Black Street:
to every house where sorrow was,
brothers or fathers dead:
thirteen on one day
in the little town of Portree,
thirteen men in Portree
and many another man
between Trotternish and Sleat,
between Duirinish and Strath,
between Bracadale and Raasay,
between Minginish and Rona,
between Uist, Harris and Inverness.
Doors opened and closed
Quietly in many a house,
And the children going home
To weeping or to silence.
Clangour of the big guns,
Blast of heavy doors being shut
About other towns in France
And throughout Europe,
And doors opening quietly
To dwellings of the broken heart.
LET US PRAY:
GOD OF POWER AND LOVE, bless our country and commonwealth. Give wisdom and strength to the Queen, govern those who make the laws, guide those who direct our common life, and grant that together we may fulfil our service for the welfare of the whole people and for Your praise and glory. Bless all members of the armed forces. Defend them in danger. Give them courage to meet all occasions with discipline and loyalty. So may they serve the cause of justice and peace, to the honour of Your name. Bless our young people. May they never see the flames of war, or know the depths of cruelty to which men and women can sink. Grant that in their generation they may be faithful soldiers and servants of Jesus. Bless our friends and those who were our enemies, who suffered or are still suffering from war. Grant that Your love may reach out to the wounded, the disabled, the mentally distressed, and those whose faith has been shaken by what they have seen and endured. Comfort all who mourn the death of loved ones. Bless those who are homeless, those who are refugees, those who are hungry, those who have lost their livelihood or security. Bless those in authority in every land, and give them wisdom to know and courage to do what is right. Encourage those who work for peace, who strive to improve international relations, who seek new ways of reconciling people of different race, colour, and creed. Bless Your Church throughout the world. By Your Holy Spirit, draw the scattered flock of Christ into a visible unity, and make Your Church a sign of hope to our divided world. Grant that we who bear Your Son’s name may be instruments of Your peace, bringing that peace to our homes, our nation, and our world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
Every night, in the town of Ypres in Belgium, there is a ceremony of the Last Post at a monument to the thousands of soldiers killed in 1915 in the Battle of Ypres-Salient, but with no known graves. Their names are inscribed on the Menin Gate monument.
Yet the battle is not over, though the war may long be past, the fighting may have halted but the cause is only masked. Unless we come together, until we learn to share, until we love more widely and think in ways more fair; until we build so bravely that all we say and do gives our hope of breaking barriers some hope of coming true, then the Last Post may be sounded in the future just the same, but the thousands who it heralds will all have died in vain.
(Nick Fawcett: In Ypres, at the 8 o’clock Last Post)
CLOSING HYMN: (CH-527) ETERNAL FATHER, STRONG TO SAVE, whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep: – O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea.
O Christ, whose voice the waters heard, and hushed their raging at Thy word, who walkedst on the foaming deep, and calm amid the storm didst sleep: – O hear us when we cry to Thee for those who peril on the sea.
O Holy Spirit, who didst brood upon the waters dark and rude, and bid their angry tumult cease, and give, for wild confusion peace: – O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea.
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
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM: – GOD SAVE OUR GRACIOUS QUEEN, long live our noble Queen; God save the Queen! Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us: God save the Queen!
Thy choicest gifts in store on her be pleased to pour; long may she reign; may she defend our laws, and ever give us cause to sing with heart and voice, “God save the Queen!”
MAY THE ALMIGHTY LORD GOD, GRANT TO THE LIVING, GRACE; TO THE DEPARTED, REST; TO THE CHURCH, THE QUEEN, THE COMMONWEALTH, AND ALL PEOPLE, PEACE AND CONCORD; AND TO US AND ALL HIS SERVANTS LIFE EVERLASTING.
AND THE BLESSING OF GOD ALMIGHTY, FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, BE WITH YOU ALL.
Sandor, your Minister.