Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this Remembrance Sunday
From the darkness of death,
God calls us into glorious light.
From the tumult of war
God call us into the beauty of peace.
Children of light,
God calls us today to remembrance.
In light and in peace
We will remember them.
Hymn 715 – Behold the mountain of the Lord (1,5,7)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of yesterday, today and forever,
You are the God of every generation, and your love endures forever.
You have protected us during difficult times, for your compassion is everlasting. In this time of worship, we declare our love and loyalty to you, and offer you our service in prayer, in praise, and in practice, this day and every day.
At this solemn season of Remembrance, we are aware of how much war has cost the world you love. In spite of fighting between nations and neighbours, you have come to us in Jesus Christ and want us to experience life in all its fullness. Renew in us the hope that you will turn our swords into ploughshares, and lead the world from the study of war to the promise of peace with justice for all your peoples.
God of mercy, with sorrow we confess that in our hearts we keep alive the passions and pride that lead to hatred and war. We are not worthy of your love, nor of the sacrifice made by others on our behalf. Forgive us we pray.
Christ died so that we might live. Through his undying love, we have been forgiven. Rejoice in the forgiveness God offers us. Be at peace with God and yourself, and make peace with your neighbours, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Act of Remembrance
Let us remember the courage, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice of the men and women of the armed forces and the toil, endurance and suffering of those who were not in uniform.
Let us remember those who fell in battle, those buried at sea or in some corner of a foreign field; and especially those we have known and loved, whose place is forever in our hearts.
Let us remember those who were our enemies, whose homes and hearts are as bereft as ours.
Let us remember those who came back; those whose lives bear the scars of war; who have lost sight or limbs or reason; who have lost faith in God and hope for humanity.
Let us remember the continuing grace of God, whose love holds all souls in life, and to whom none is dead but all are alive for ever.
They shall grow not old
As we who 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 shall remember them.
Hymn 712 – What shall we pray (1,2,6)
Readings – Romans 8: 31-39
John 15: 9-17
O God of truth and justice, we hold before you those men and women who have died in active service throughout the world. As we honour their courage and cherish their memory, may we put our faith in your future; for you are the source of eternal life and hope, now and forever. And as we pray for peace in our troubled world, give us peace in our hearts. Amen
I was speaking with one of our congregation during the week, and she was saying that her father had been awarded the Military Medal. He was in his early twenties and in the medical corps and was serving with a New Zealand regiment at Monte Cassino in Italy, a scene of bitter fighting. The Allies had retreated, but one of the soldiers was injured and had been left behind in what was now behind enemy lines. The young man immediately volunteered to go to treat the injured soldier, and was there for some hours and was also able to observe how the enemy was deploying its tanks and to report back. Eventually the injured man was brought to safety, saved by our member’s father. But what made him volunteer to take such a risky mission? He was going into the lion’s den and could very easily have been captured and even shot, as would the injured man. But of course, this was not a unique story, but one that happened over and over again, of comrades, on whatever side of the fighting, ready to make sacrifices, even the ultimate sacrifice for their friends.
John says, Greater love has no-one than this; that they lay down their life for their friends. In this case, the young man survived the war, though bore its scars, as many did. But how many down the centuries have given their lives for their friends, for their family – ready to make the sacrifice. It is always with a sense of poignancy that I look at the various memorials around the parish. Behind each name there is a story. For some, it is the story of a young person from the Borders, who probably had never previously been out of their home area in their lives and ending up, in the case of some at Linton, at Gaza or Gallipoli. I am sure others in the years since have served on land, air or sea, in jungles of Malaya, in Korea, Cyprus, Kenya, Ireland, Afghanistan. Many survived, but some did not.
In the ITV series ‘Grantchester’ a month ago there was a sub-plot of Geordie, the policeman, who had been in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, and one by one the prisoners died or were killed until it was just him and his friend left, and Geordie prayed it would be his friend, not him, taken away next. He had to live with that guilt.
Behind each name there is a story, and behind each name there are stories of other people affected. Parents mourning the loss of a dear child; a fiancée perhaps who may never have married; colleagues who lost a friend. Even the recent withdrawal of soldiers from Afghanistan have left so many people behind, vulnerable to reprisals. There can be many heroic stories in war, but war is messy, horrific. On the Church of Scotland website this week is a story of a village in Burma raised to the ground, including church and pastor’s home. In the news there is civil war in Ethiopia. But we ever strive for peace and like Micah aim to turn swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, a recycling project from 3000 years ago, turning weapons into implements to tend the land and grow plants.
What’s more, in Romans Paul assures us that whatever we go through in life, God is there with us. Nothing, whether danger or even death itself, can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus showed that by walking the way of the Cross, being ready to die for his friends – and his friends include you and me and all the world.
Hymn 706 – For the healing of the nations (1,2)
Prayers of Dedication & Intercession
God of all the ages past, hope of years to come:
We gather in this season of remembrance,
grateful that you hold each one of us in your memory and your mystery,
now and for all the time to come.
Today, we remember all those who have served to uphold justice and freedom
in the wars of the last century,
in conflicts of our own generation,
and in peacekeeping and relief efforts around the world.
Especially we pray for those who have died in this service
and for those who carry scars on body and soul, having returned from conflict.
We remember their courage
and we pray for their families who still ache for lives surrendered at a great cost.
O God, we remember before you the victims of conflict,
hiding in forgotten corners of the world, longing for safety and peace.
Especially we pray for people in Afghanistan who fear for their lives and their future.
We remember victims of violence in our own country,
still fearful and uncertain about what the future holds for them.
Give us the courage to speak out for their protection and recovery.
O God, we remember those around us who struggle to remember day by day;
those who must cope with the fear of forgetting those who matter most to them,
and those who face the fear of being forgotten.
Help us remember to reach out in comfort and support
so that no one is forgotten.
O God, we remember those around us who carry on
under the burden of sad and hard memories;
those weighed down by grief, disappointment, anger, pain and loss.
Inspire us to offer a listening ear and an understanding heart whenever we can.
God of all the ages past, hope of years to come,
help us to remember you day by day.
Keep us prepared to shine the light of your gospel into the dark corners of the world. Amen
Hymn 511 – Your hand, O God, has guided (1,3,4)
Let us go from this place with minds that never forget, with hearts that grow in hope, with lives that shine Christ’s light. Let us go to serve, to reconcile, to bring peace, and to stand united as children of the light. And may the blessing of God, Creator, Peacemaker, Peacebringer, go with you all, this day and every day. Amen
Hymn 703 - National Anthem (v1)