Sunday 8TH November

23rd Sunday after Pentecost

Remembrance Sunday

 

Call to worship

Our help is in the name of the Lord,

Maker of heaven and earth.

 

Hymn

CH4 161

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 thy throne,

Thy saints have dwelt secure;

Sufficient is thine arm alone,

And our defence is sure.

 

3.      Before the hills in order stood,

Or earth received her frame,

From everlasting thou art God,

To endless years the same.

 

4.      A thousand ages in thy sight

Are like an evening gone;

Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.

 

5.      Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.

 

6.      O God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Be thou our guard while troubles last,

And our eternal home.  

 

Prayer

Loving Lord,

We have come today to worship you,

And to remember those who have lived and died in war

As they sought to serve others.

We confess with shame those occasions

When nations have lightly chosen war rather than peace.

We pray for all who still suffer as a result of war

And we seek to commit ourselves to serve their needs

And work with all our strength

To see peace and justice established throughout the world.

Lord, for not being prepared for peace,

For not being prepared for a new way of living,

For not being prepared for the arrival of love’s domain,

We are sorry and we ask for forgiveness.

For not being ready for God’s work on earth,

For not being ready to speak out when love calls,

For not being ready to stand firm in the Gospel,

We are sorry and we ask for forgiveness.

For not making plans to wipe out injustice,

For not making plans to love our enemies,

We are sorry and we ask for forgiveness.

Lord, have mercy on us,

Pardon and deliver us from all our sins,

Fill our souls with the possibility of heaven,

And strengthen us with your love.

Let’s continue our prayer by praying the words of the Lord’s Prayer..

Our Father who 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 debts as we forgive our debtors,

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.

  

Readings

Isaiah 25: 1 – 9

Matthew 5: 38 – 48

 

Reflection

Isaiah 25: 1 – 9

Whenever we think that we live in exceptionally volatile times, we only need to look to the three-voiced writings of Isaiah to find poetic accounts of the experience of conflict and suffering. This reminds us that in our humanity, nothing is new, and that we continue to endure what our ancestors did, but with more sophisticated and effective methods of killing each other. The sentiments of Isaiah are therefore all the more poignant, as we read of both hope and tragedy in an apparently endless cycle of human failure to co-exist peacefully. I suppose that this passage in its two sections of 1-5 and 6-9 might be termed “poetic reporting”. The experience of conflict and destruction is described as being overcome by the power of God, which is a place of safety for the vulnerable and victims of conflict. Hope that the ruthlessly powerful will not win out over those unable to defend themselves shines through here.

 

Matthew 5: 38 – 48

Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as standing in the line of Moses is amplified in the journey up the mountain in chapter five, echoing the ascent of Mount Sinai by Moses for the giving of the Law. Remember that Matthew has Jesus say that not a letter will be removed from the Law, and that Jesus has come to fulfil and not contradict or nullify the Law. The Sermon on the Mount, which appears at the start of chapter five, is an astonishing manifesto that follows the drift of the New Testament: the poor, vulnerable, and defenceless will be the special recipients of God’s grace and favour. The Beatitudes in (5:1-11) are God’s manifesto and need to be set against the parts of the Law that seem so harsh. So, we hear in this passage the deepening of the Law as Jesus draws on the great commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself. It is a counterintuitive development that reveals how challenging Jesus must have been in his time. Embrace the “cruciform theology” of vulnerability, risk and pain in order to show the true face of God. We are to go beyond the terms of the law and find mercy and reconciliation in every situation. This should shake all of us when we find that although we are on board with the idea of peace and reconciliation, it may only on our terms and without commitment to the necessary effort of giving up what we might feel that we are entitled to, or the grievances that we may hold.

 

Prayer

God of good ness and truth,

We offer our broken spirits for your healing,

Our searching for your guiding light.

God of light and love,

You desire that all your people

Should live in your peace,

Grant us the humility to seek your forgiveness

And the will to practise it

In our dealings with others.

Help us in the days to come

To seek the good of the world,

To work for the increase of peace and justice,

And to show tolerance and open-mindedness

Towards those whose character and customs

differ from ours.

Grant that our remembrance this day

May be for practical service,

And the world made better

For our children’s children.

Receive our prayers

for the well-being of all people,

especially those who mourn and are sad,

and for all in distress,

both known to us and unknown.

Hear us Lord,

As we pray for the peace of the world,

For the wise resolution of conflicts,

And the release of captive and oppressed people everywhere.

Grant that the people of the world

May do your will and live in your spirit,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.

 

Hymn

CH4b 710

1.      ‘I have a dream’, a man once said,

‘where all is perfect peace;

Where men and women, black and white,

Stand hand in hand, and all unite

In freedom and in love,

In freedom and in love.’

 

2.      But in this world of bitter strife,

The dream can often fade;

Reality seems dark as night,

We catch but glimpses of the light

Christ sheds on humankind,

Christ sheds on humankind.

 

3.      Fierce persecution, war and hate

Are raging everywhere;

God calls us now to pay the price

Through struggles and through sacrifice

Of standing for the right,

Of standing for the right.

 

4.      So, dream the dreams and sing the songs,

But never be content;

For thoughts and words don’t ease the pain:

Unless there’s action, all is vain;

Faith proves itself in deeds,

Faith proves itself in deeds.

 

5.      Lord, give us vision, make us strong,

Help us to do your will;

Don’t let us rest until we see

Your love throughout humanity

Uniting us in peace,

Uniting us in peace.

 

Blessing

Lord God,

Grant to the living, grace,

To the departed, rest,

To all people, peace and harmony,

And to us and all your servants,

Life everlasting,

And the blessing of God almighty,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be with us all, evermore,

Amen.