Archive for remembrance


Posted in sermons, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 11, 2018 by fibrefairy

What, I wonder is your first memory, something major,  or something trivial but personally significant – mine is both. The moon landing and my grandparents moving house on the same day.

Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth recalls that her first memory was the celebrations at the relief of Mafeking –

I wonder if a life lived in the shadow of war made that more likely to have remained a memory?!

Remembering is a vital and important part of a human existence

Memories are part of us, they shape how we view the world, our earliest experiences colour our character, later ones form us and shape our opinions.

Good memories, bad memories

Half remembered memories

The memories we’d rather forget, traumatic events, loss, grief

The things we cling to

Memories that are half forgotten, evoked by a smell, a sound, a face.

Memory plays tricks on us too, yesterday Tim & I went back to see a house we’d viewed previously. Each of us had remembered things differently, smaller, larger, brighter, darker.

We have all I’m sure been back to a place we knew when young and exclaimed at how small it seems now.

Part of the reasons we want to forget some things is because we want to change what happened, and we know we can’t

We block out, either deliberately or our neurological system does it for us, the bad, traumatic things that have occurred, it’s a form of self-protection.

However, some things are so bad that we must remember

War is one of those things.

The commemoration of Armistice day is a multi-layered thing,

100 years on there are few alive today who lost fathers brothers and friends in the 14-18 conflict, but families and communities still remember the holes in their collective lives, we mourn the loss of potential, of individuals, of memories that were never made.

And of course, we remember and mourn those lost in successive conflicts, WW2 and others almost too many to name.

Corporately, nationally, one of the reasons we must remember is to prevent such a wholesale disaster recurring

The Great War was known as the war to end all wars.

The Peace of 1919 also saw the beginnings of organisations such as the Peace pledge Union, the League of Nations -now the UN, and post WW2 the rise of peace campaigning such as CND and others,


And yet, we live in a world that is riven by violence, war terrorism and all manner of conflict.

Clearly just remembering is not enough.

Are we doing the right kind of remembering?

Are we drawing the kindly veil of time over events in the past?

Are we romanticising history?

The philosopher George Santayana said;  Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it;


It’s a particular kind of remembering that enables us to change…

As Christians the centre of our faith is remembering.

Every Sunday we obey the command of Jesus to “do this is remembrance of me”

For some, this becomes ritual, habit, tradition

The bread and the wine are just part of what we do, moving perhaps, important of course, but they have no impact beyond the door of a church

But what Jesus asked us to do was to bring that moment, the moment of his death and resurrection, in to our present.

To remember afresh each time as if it was now.

To be overwhelmed by his love and his presence each time bread is broken and wine outpoured

And for it to make a difference.

For us to experience that love so deeply, so transformatively

that we are changed, and we leave the building where we are, equipped to make a difference in our world.

This is what Jesus meant when he said “do this to remember me”

We commemorate A,rmistice in church because in 1919 the church was the centre of the community, a bedrock for many a gathering place.

But if we are to do that, if we are to remember the war dead and to pray for an end to war then our remembrance must be active

It must enable us to bring the horror and grief of war to the foot of the cross, right here in this place of worship and enable us to be transformed to work for peace in the power of the Prince of peace

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, he had not simply taken up the nearest and cheapest available form of transport

He was smashing the expectation that people had of the coming Messiah.

Many had already hailed him as the Messiah, but they were mistaken in how his messiahship would be exercised.

They were after a warlord, a rebel, someone to rid them of occupying forces and to establish the Kingdom of Israel, by force and might

Jesus came on a donkey instead of a warhorse to show them he was different, his Kingdom was to be one of peace, and justice.

Not weak and pathetic and a walkover

But powerful, transformative, seeking equity, freedom and justice for all peoples.

It was brave move and he was much misunderstood, and it led to his execution. After his resurrection his disciples spoke out, they risked the same fate, and indeed often suffered it for preaching the Kingdom of God and Jesus as Messiah rather than a ‘still to come’ warlord rebel.

The early church spoke out and lived out the truths of the Kingdom;

The upside down topsy turvey first shall be last Kingdom of God. They shared their life together, the cared for those rejected by society.

When we remember Jesus at the eucharist as he commanded, we too are proclaiming that Kingdom, a kingdom that stands against the values of our world, the Eucharist is not about  status quo and establishment,

it is a radical act of defiance against those things.

A proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

As we remember all those, who died in so many conflicts we must also find our voice, and in their memory fearlessly speak out against injustice, violence and war, working towards the time when swords will be turned into ploughshares, the lion will lie with the lamb and there will be peace on earth. We won’t necesarily make friends that way, but if we’re here for anything it is to speak out, and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

If those we remember today died for anything it was the hope that evil violence and war would end.

Remembrance is active, the greatest memorial to those who died is a world striving for peace.

In Jesus, who we remember at the altar, and in whose power we live, we have a command and a mandate to speak and live and work for that day when his kingdom comes, and justice and mercy will be seen in all the earth.

Lest we forget…Amen





a different Kingdom: a sermon for remembrance

Posted in sermons, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2014 by fibrefairy

Remembrance Sunday 2014 : The Beatitudes

It’s not often we hear someone in public life stand up and give a speech that radically surprises us.

We don’t expect our politicians to say anything radical or earth shattering any more , we’ve heard it all before, several  times.

Somehow we think know how the world runs, and  our somewhat cynical  expectation is that everyone is as bad as the next person, and it doesn’t  much matter which colour tie they wear who what their badge is.

There can also be sadly that same expectation in church. What  do we  think we’ll hear preached, or taught? maybe we come and we don’t expect to hear a different message or the status quo challenged?

I wonder if it was similar in first century Palestine? I wonder if the listeners to any speaker, whether political, or perhaps more so religious, thought that they  knew what was coming.

If human nature hasn’t changed much, and I don’t suspect that it has very much .I expect that was  indeed the case;  and so when Jesus stood up to speak, what he said and how he said it would have been all the more radical and challenging.

The Sermon on the Mount, from which today’s reading is taken was nothing short of an extraordinarily radical sermon, the things Jesus said and the approach to life that he was advocating would have shaken his listeners completely.

Over the course of the years, familiarity has lost the sense of the radical that the original would have had,

We often approach the Beatitudes, the “ blessed are…” statements  with a rather cozy comforting feeling,  the idea that they’re there to make us feel better,  nice Christian mottoes with vague positive meanings.

They’re absolutely not!

These are challenges that are designed to really make people think about their lives and how they lived them,

Blessed are those who show mercy and forgiveness, without looking for a return,  who open themselves to the stranger and the foreigner without differentiation;

and  those who are poor in spirit,  who know they’re broken  and messed up and in need of  forgiveness, change and help…

blessed are the peacemakers, not just those who want peace but those who stand in between warring factions and risk themselves, their lives their reputations & their lives for reconciliation …

blessed are  those who ache with every fibre of their being for  what God wants in the world…


It’s these people, Jesus says, who understand what the Kingdom of God is all about,

For the Kingdom of God is not like any earthly rule or dominion.

It’s not based on power, and might, empire or influence, its not based on beating your neighbour,  or being stronger or more important, or amassing more than they have.

It’s not based on keeping up a front and pretending you’re better than you are.

The Kingdom of God is about turning the values of the world on their heads –perhaps turning the world the right way up again , it’s radical , different and costly

It’s not what we’re used to,  nothing like we’ve known before.

The kingdom of God is not about “me”

Its not about  them & us

It is about the other,  about welcome,  forgiveness, radical peace, and living God’s way.

This way of living is not natural to us,  it’s not how  humanity lives given the choice – and today is a day when we recall that sombre fact; we recall and remember  the legacy of kingdoms built on power and might and aggression, rather than the values of the Kingdom of God.

But living the way of the Kingdom of God is only possible with Jesus.

Today at the memorial, we listen to the Last Post,  that poignant symbol of night, and death.

We stand in silence, as we remember all those who have died in war,

and we resume with the Reveille, the Rouse –the call to wake, to Live

Death. Sleep and Resurrection

That ceremony reminds us not just of those who have died for this country and so many others,

It reminds us too of what is at the very core of our Christian faith, it reminds of of what Jesus did, to enable us  to be forgiven, and to live a different way,

His death,

the silence of the grave

and then his glorious resurrection are what give us the chance  of a new and radical way of living,   a change in ourselves and in our communities, a challenge to the world around us as we learn in his power to  live not for ourselves and the old ways,  but for the Kingdom of God , for mercy, peace, forgiveness, justice and life.


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