We welcome everyone to our services at Yetholm (10am) and Morebattle (11.15am).
Call to Worship
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 161 – O God our help in ages past
Prayer 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 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.
Will the congregation please stand, if you are able
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.
Readings – Isaiah 25: 1-9 (pg 708)
Matthew 5: 38-48
Hymn 192 – All my hope (1,2,5)
Everlasting God, wash away the wounds of war, violence, and hatred, help us to recognise how blessed Jesus named the peacemakers and to know that if we really wish for a peaceful world we should honestly pray – “Let it begin with me.” Amen
Many people, including schools, have travelled to the war cemeteries in France and Belgium and are moved as they see row after row of graves. If you look at the dates, they are young people who died at the age of 18 and 19 and 20, their whole lives ahead of them, but cruelly cut short. I have never been to Flanders, but I have been to the Commonwealth cemeteries in Gallipoli and Cairo, so ordered and beautifully cared for. Places of peace amid the noise and bustle of the city. Most graves have crosses, but a number have the crescent moon for Muslims or the Star of David for Jews. There was a separate section for Hindus and even those of smaller faith communities like the Parsees. Whenever you look at the rows of tidy graves, you say NEVER AGAIN. Never again the heartache, never again the horrors of war.
There is also a Commonwealth war cemetery in Gaza, as two battles were fought there in WW1. Whether bombs have hit it, I don’t know, but certainly around it will be scenes of destruction and of death. At a time we remember the fallen, we are conscious of the terrible war in Ukraine that still goes on, but also the horrendous attack by Hamas on the kibbutzim, the farming communities in Israel, women and children among the casualties but also the subsequent bombing of Gaza. Disease is now rife, and as always the innocent are caught in the middle.
George Anton is a Christian living in Gaza. He has three young children, and the family were told to leave their home, as bombs would target their area. They took refuge at the church, which was also damaged, then moved to the Christian centre, just built 4 years ago from money including that from the Carol sheets we use at Christmas. It is a place with trees and space, where Christians are trained and which was on the way to being self-sustaining. The youths were active finding water and food, but now it too has been destroyed. George and his family are now heading south, struggling to find water while the children have diarrhoea. George says, ‘We are incredibly vulnerable. There is no safe place in Gaza. We are under constant fire and are filled with terror and fear’. Will they survive?
Leah lives in Israel. She lost a son in a terrorist attack, but has been helped to come to terms with her grief through contact with other families in the same position, including Arab families. They have managed to build bridges, but now her neighbours pick on her because of her friendship with Arabs and make snide comments. It is difficult to remain committed to peace, but Leah is strong and she continues to have a vision of Jews, Moslems and Christians living together.
We see that in our reading from Isaiah, a vision of the holy mountain where there was a banquet for ALL people and where the shroud of death covering ALL nations will be destroyed and God will swallow up death and wipe every tear from ALL faces. It is a picture of people from all nations coming together in peace. We need to keep that vision alive.
In the American Declaration of Independence, there is the phrase, ‘We hold that these things are self-evident that all men are created equal’. That was expanded in 1848 to be all men and women are created equal, while in his Gettysburg Address in November 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the emancipation of slaves. They were equal. This led to Martin Luther King’s vision that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed that all are created equal.
It is still a problem in Israel where Palestinians are still second class citizens, but even in this country where some are more equal than others. But we need to hold on to the vision of living in harmony.
Jesus told us to love our neighbours; he also told us to love our enemies. Often the same people, so GK Chesterton said. Jesus recognised that we do have enemies. People rub us up the wrong way. They are nasty to us, do bad things to us, and we want to lash out, take revenge, pay them back, give them a taste of their own medicine. But we are encouraged to look at them through God’s eyes and to work towards loving them. It can take time, but we persevere. For we remember how Jesus had bad things done to him and was surrounded by enemies who put him on a cross and as he died, he said, ‘Father Forgive them. They know not what they do’. He continues to love. So let us keep our vision of peace alive.
Hymn 710 – I had a dream
Offering Prayers of Thanksgiving & 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 preserve justice and freedom in the wars of the last century, in conflicts of our own generation
and in peace keeping and relief efforts around the world, thinking especially of those who have died
and those who carry scars on body and soul.
We remember their courage and we remember their families who still ache for lives surrendered at great cost.
Today we remember the victims of conflict,
hiding in forgotten corners of the world, longing for safety and peace; and those seeking refuge among us. We remember victims of violence in our own country, still fearful and uncertain about the future
Help us remember to speak out for their protection and recovery.
Today we remember all 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 with the fear of being forgotten. Help us remember to reach out in comfort and support so no one is forgotten.
Today we remember all those around us who carry on
under the burden of sad and hard memories;
those weighed down by grief or disappointment,
by anger, pain and loss. Help us remember to offer a listening ear and an understanding heart.
God of all the ages past, hope of years to come,
help us remember you day by day. Keep us prepared to lift up the grace and truth of your Gospel to shine into the harsh and distorted corners of the world
so that the world will see we are faithful followers of Jesus. Amen
Hymn 159 – Lord for the years
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)