Sunday November 14th 2021

A warm welcome to our Remembrance Sunday Reflections

Hymn 161 O God our help in ages past

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssr-Ga3Mz6Q

Prayer of Approach and Confession

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 love 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 the sacrifice made by others on our behalf.

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.

Almighty God,

Pardon and deliver us from our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying – Our Father…

Hymn 715 Behold the mountain of the Lord

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI6N4vDtQhI

Readings

Micah 4:1-4

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established

    as the highest of the mountains;

it will be exalted above the hills,

    and peoples will stream to it.

 

2 Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

    to the temple of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us his ways,

    so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion,

    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

3

He will judge between many peoples

    and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.

They will beat their swords into ploughshares

    and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not take up sword against nation,

    nor will they train for war anymore.

4

Everyone will sit under their own vine

    and under their own fig tree,

and no one will make them afraid,

    for the Lord Almighty has spoken.

 

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Hymn 705 It is God who holds the nations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU1tV7CSuVg

Reflections

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen

When we first went into Covid lockdown last year, I found myself drawn to a couple of books about Jews living in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two.  One of these was called Beyond these walls by Janina Bauman, who was a school girl at the time.  In a strange way it cheered me up to think about how much worse our own situation could be and how people had survived much worse situations than the one we were living through.

The second was a book by Wladyslaw Szpilman called The Pianist.  I saw the film of it years ago, and I expect some of you did too.

 Wladyslaw Szpilman was, as the title of the book suggests, a professional musician – a pianist – and his job, at the time of the German invasion of Poland, was to play on Polish radio.

As you are no doubt aware, Jews in Warsaw had a terrible time while under Nazi occupation.  They were holed up in a ghetto in horrible circumstances and eventually most of them were transported off to the gas chambers, including the rest of Wladyslaw Szpilman’s family – his parents, his brother and his two sisters.  Very few of the large Jewish community survived the war and the ones who did only did because they left, or went into hiding.

Wladyslaw Szpilman’s story is a miraculous one of survival, but what actually saved him in the last few months of the war were the actions of a Nazi officer called Captain Wilm Hosenfeld.

By the end of the war, most of Warsaw had been obliterated by bombing and had been deserted by all but some German soldiers.  Wladyslaw Szpilman was hiding out in the bombed out ruins of the houses when he was discovered by this Nazi officer.  He fully expected to be shot.  Instead this officer found a better hiding place for him and brought him food and blankets at regular intervals.  And at the end of the book there are extracts from the diary of this Nazi officer.   

Captain Wilm Hosenfeld was a committed Christian.  He was a member of the Catholic Church and his diary recounts the terrible struggle that he had all during the war between his Christian faith and the actions of the Nazi’s and I think his thoughts probably encapsulate some of the issues we may have when we think of the reality of war and what Jesus taught in the gospels.

Let me read to you some of his diary:

Tomaszow 26th June 1942

I hear organ music and singing from the Catholic Church.  I go in; children in white taking their first communion are standing at the altar.  There is a crowd of people in the church.  They are just singing the Tantum ergo, and the blessing is being given.  I let the priest bless me too.  Innocent little children in a Polish city here, in a German city there, or in some other country, all praying to God, and in a few years’ time they will be fighting and killing each other with blind hatred. Even in the old days, when nations were more religious and called their rulers Christian majesties, it was the same as today when people are moving away from Christianity.  Humanity seems doomed to do more evil than good.  The greatest ideal on earth is human love.

1st September 1942

Why did this war have to happen at all?  Because humanity had to be shown where its godlessness was taking it.  First of all Bolshevism killed millions, saying it was done to introduce a new world order. But the Bolshevists could act as they did only because they had turned away from God and Christian teaching.  Now National Socialism is doing the same in Germany.  It forbids people to practise their religion, the young are brought up godless, the Church is opposed and its property appropriated, anyone who thinks differently is terrorised, the free human nature of the German people is debased and they are turned into terrified slaves….  There are no commandments now against stealing, killing or lying, not if they go against people’s personal interests.  This denial of God’s commandments leads to all other immoral manifestations of greed…We will not listen to the divine commandment – “love one another.”

6th July 1943

Why does God permit this terrible war with its dreadful human sacrifices? Think of the terrible air raids, the awful fear of the innocent civilian population, the inhumanity of the treatment of prisoners in the concentration camps, the murder of thousands of Jews by the Germans. Is it God’s fault?  Why doesn’t he step in, why does he let it all happen?  We might ask such questions, but we will get no answer.  We are so willing to blame others instead of ourselves.  God allows evil to come about because mankind has espoused it, and now we are beginning to feel the burden of our own evil.

He goes on: “When the terrible mass murders of Jews were committed last summer, so many women and children slaughtered, I knew quite certainly that we would lose the war.  There was now no point in a war which might once have been justified as a search for free subsistence and living space – it had degenerated into vast inhuman mass slaughter and it can never be justified.”

Captain Wilm Hosenfeld’s views are quite clear.  Although once perhaps Germany did have a just cause, the terrible actions of the Nazi’s especially against the Jews had totally negated it.  And the reason that such terrible things were happening were because people had turned away from religion, had turned away from God and God’s commandments, and he realised that one day they would reap what they were sowing.

As indeed they did.  And sadly, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld also reaped what the Nazi’s had sown, because despite the fact that he actually saved a number of Jewish lives, he ended his days a broken man in a prisoner of war camp in Stalingrad.

But the thoughts which he expressed in his diary live on.  “The greatest ideal on earth is human love.”

The gospel passage which we read this morning is one set for Remembrance Sunday.  It comes from Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and it is at one and the same time so simple to say and so difficult to do: “Love your enemies”, Jesus said. 

These are words which Captain Wilm Hosenfeld put into action and there are people alive today who owe their existence to his Christian faith.

Amen

Hymn 710 “I have a dream”, a man once said

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZpRiaIFOpM

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession.

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 the 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 depth of cruelty to which men and women can sink. Grant that in their generation they may be faithful soldiers and servants of Jesus Christ.

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, and all who this day miss the comradeship of friends.

Bless those who are homeless, those who are refugees, those who are hungry, and those who have lost their livelihood or security. Help us to pledge ourselves to comfort, support, and encourage others, that all may live in a world where evil and poverty are done away and where human life reflects the radiance of your kingdom.

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, and especially to keep the momentum of the COP26 conference going, and 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 peace to our homes, one nation, and one world.

And now, rejoicing in the communion of saints, we remember those whom you have gathered from the storm of war into the peace of your presence, and give you thanks for those whom we have known, whose memory we treasure. May the example of their devotion inspire us, that we may be taught to live by those who learned to die. And at the last, grant that we, being faithful till death, may receive with them the crown of life that never fades, through Christ our Lord, Amen

Hymn 266 God the Omnipotent

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT1D-nR9c9M

Blessing

And now as we leave this place

may the Spirit of the living God be with us

in all that we think,

all that we say

and all that we do.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you, and those you love, and those you find hard to love, this day and forevermore. …

Closing voluntary:  William Walton Crown Imperial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwj1YyyP_OA

 


 

 

Intimations

Minister on leave

I will be on annual leave until Tuesday 23rd November.  Gwen Corson will take the services next Sunday and be responsible for any pastoral emergencies: tel: 01557 870328

Diary Deadline

Articles for the next edition of the Diary should be with Jim Logan, 16 Fleet Street, email: jim.wml@btinternet.com by Monday 22nd November

Fairtrade Events

To Fairtrade Supporters and Friends -  advance notice of Fairtrade Events Coming Up     (subject to covid and with mask/distancing where appropriate)

Thursday 25th November 7-8pm    Matt Oliver from Traidcraft presents “The 12 Fair Days of Christmas” on Zoom  hosted by Katherine. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89333697958

Saturday 27th November 10-12noon       Fairtrade Coffee Morning

Kirkcudbright Parish Hall.   Delicious baking, Traidcraft Food and Gifts, Book Stall and Raffle.

Sunday 28th November    12 noon till 9pm.   Open House at Katherine’s      5 Castledykes Road,  Kirkcudbright Drop in any time for a chat, a browse and homemade refreshments.  Handcrafted and eco-friendly goods from Traidcraft, Shared Earth,  Manos Amigas and Namaste.  Tearfund Christmas cards

Clearance Sale of previous years’ stock

Bring a friend.    Make Your Christmas Fairtrade!

 Monday 13th - Thursday 16th  December   Fairtrade and Working Print Studio Pop Up Shop for your Christmas shopping  10am-4pmAt the Station House Pop Up, St Mary’s Street,  Kirkcudbright (opposite the Johnston)

Further information  01557 339202  07759 696948k