Service for Remembrance Sunday 2020

HYMN I vow to thee, my country

1 I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
the love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
that lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
the love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
the love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

2 And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
we may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
and soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
and her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

PRAYER
Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ 
we cannot be parted either by death or life,
hear our prayers and thanksgivings 
for all whom we remember this day,
fulfil in them the purpose of your love,
and bring us, with them, to your eternal joy; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
Let us confess to God the sins and shortcomings of the world, 
its pride, its selfishness, its greed, its evil divisions and hatreds. 
Let us confess our share in that wrong, and our failure to seek and establish 
that peace which God wills for all his children.

All Most merciful God, 
we confess that we have sinned 
in thought, word and deed. 
We have not loved you with our whole heart. 
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. 
In your mercy forgive what we have been, 
help us to amend what we are, 
and direct what we shall be; 
that we may do justly, love mercy, 
and walk humbly with you, our God; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May Almighty God have mercy upon you, 
pardon and deliver you from all your sins, 
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, 
and keep you in life eternal; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE COLLECT
Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

FIRST READING - Amos 5:18-24

Alas for you who desire the day of the LORD!
Why do you want the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, not light;
as if someone fled from a lion,
and was met by a bear;
or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,
and was bitten by a snake.
Is not the day of the LORD darkness, not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?
I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

HYMN Lord of our life and God of our salvation

1 Lord of our life, and God of our salvation,
Star of our night, and hope of every nation,
Hear and receive thy Church's supplication,
Lord God Almighty.

2 *See round thine ark the hungry billows curling;
See how thy foes their banners are unfurling;
Lord, while their darts envenomed they are hurling,
Thou canst preserve us.

3 Lord, thou canst help when earthly armour faileth,
Lord, thou canst save when deadly sin assaileth;
Christ, o'er thy rock nor death nor hell prevaileth;
Grant us thy peace, Lord.

4 Peace in our hearts, our evil thoughts assuaging;
Peace in thy Church, where brothers are engaging;
Peace, when the world its busy war is waging:
Calm thy foes' raging.

5 Grant us thy help till backward they are driven,
Grant them thy truth, that they may be forgiven;
Grant peace on earth, and, after we have striven,
Peace in thy heaven.

GOSPEL - Matthew 25.1-13
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour..

SERMON
Amos in this morning’s reading for the 3rd Sunday before Advent, there are no special readings for Remembrance Sunday in the lectionary, is being truly prophetic; he is challenging the present in the context of the future. He is saying, “You look forward to the day when God will come and rescue you from the mess you’re in – beware, you will be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. You think your fine Temple worship will save you, your celebrations and your psalms, your music is nothing but noise to me. Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream – and then your worship will mean something. But the message has a sting in the tale – the rolling waters and flowing streams may sweep you all away in the torrent.

It has often been pointed out that it is the same God that armies pray to  - the same God that nations invoke for the successful prosecution of their wars. Amos would say ‘beware,’ God is not to be bought by your prayers. 

And what of these ten bridesmaids? It seems a pretty brutal tale of those who are in and those who are out, those who make it and those who don’t. It seems to warn us to be prepared - to garner the resources we need before we need them. The story seems to be terms of the eschatological future – the second coming of Christ that was to precede the coming of the end – or rather the coming of the new beginning. Can it say anything useful to us at a time when most of us have given up thinking in terms of apocalypse?

I think so – if it can teach us this one simple truth then it will have achieved its task. That the resources of the human spirit have to be invested in if they are to help us in time of need. And what builds the human spirit is spending time in the company of the Spirit of God. There is no substitute – how could there be?

The parable ends with the exhortation to stay awake – or to put it another way, be aware. Awareness is a spiritual principle much regarded by Buddhists and I would maintain, taught by Jesus. Trying to be aware is working, day in and day out, to see things as they really are – in the world about us, in other people, in ourselves. To see through the complexity of motives, prejudices, projections and even memories, to see people as they truly are – and ourselves as we truly are.

But what does awareness have to say about Remembrance? That if we are to remember we must remember honestly – commemorating honestly, cutting through the fog of the past, its rewriting and glorification, the denigration and carping – and most of all using an awareness of the past as a prophetic warning for the future. The Russians have a saying “he who has one eye on the past is half-blind to the future – he who has no eyes on the past is totally blind to the future.” 

Honest remembrance is not difficult if we are never deaf to the voices that cry to us from the past, in fearful awareness.

We Shall Remember Them 

No visit to a gracious Queen, 
no presentation honouring the dead. 

The day his medal came 
her fingers fumbled with the padded envelope; 
ribbon and steel dropped from her hand, 
another piece rolled out of sight. 

When they came home they found her there, 
tears falling on the polished floor, 
trying to fit the fragments of her son, 
to make sense of the scattered jigsaw 
of his life. 

Home-assembly decoration kits 
by order of a grateful Government, 
broken like the bodies 
they were made to celebrate. 

But then he was, at seventeen, hardly a soldier. 
Just a name and number in the power game. 
Mail-order hero of a battle scene.                     Sheila Parry

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
Let us declare our faith
in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7

HYMN Eternal Father strong to save

1 Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.

2 O Saviour, whose almighty word
The winds and waves submissive heard,
Who walkedst upon the foaming deep,
And calm amid the rage didst sleep:
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.

3 O sacred Spirit, who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bad'st its angry tumult cease,
And gavest light and life and peace:
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.

4 O Trinity of love and power,
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them whereso'er they go:
And ever let there rise to thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION - Vera Oldham
Heavenly Father, we draw close to you now to offer our prayers of intercession for all in any kind of need.

On this Remembrance Sunday we offer our thanks for the ultimate sacrifice given by all who have died in wars past and in current conflicts. Comfort all who mourn the loss of those who have laid down their lives in the service of others. Be with them in their sorrow and support them in their loss. Give them the faith to look beyond conflict and to know that neither death nor life can separate us from your love which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Hold our service men and women and our security forces in your loving hands. As they protect us, we ask that you protect them. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, they gave their tomorrow that we may have our today. Help us to value today and each day that you give us. Help us to cherish all that is good and true in our world, help us to take time to appreciate its beauty, and to give thanks for it. Teach us how to save our planet from pollution and overuse of resources so that future generations may enjoy life in a sustainable and beautiful world.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for peace in the world. Teach us all to be channels of your peace and instruments of your will for the world. We pray for the communities devastated by conflict or natural disasters, for the countries struggling with economic problems and debt, for all the troubled parts of the world where tribes and factions cannot find a way to live peacefully together. Fill all world leaders with your Holy Spirit that they may know and understand your way and your message.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give thanks for the love given and received among our families and friends, remembering especially those who have encouraged us along our path of faith. Grant that we too may encourage others by our faith, our deeds and our example to follow Christ. We thank you for all in our Benefice who give us leadership and guidance, especially during these difficult times. Grant them all vision, energy and courage to teach and to lead all those who seek the Kingdom of God

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We offer our prayers now for all who are sick or in any kind of difficulty, especially those in our Benefice and those known to us personally. Give strength, wisdom and gentleness to all who care for them that they may radiate your goodness to all they serve. 

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We remember before you now all those who have died recently and pray especially for the family and friends of those whose funerals have taken place this week. 

As we think of the all the families and friends who will come together in remembrance today, help us to share each others sorrow and give strength and hope to those who grieve. Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light no darkness can quench. The light of Christ shines eternally and brings hope to us all.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN O God our help in ages past

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.

O God of truth and justice, 
we hold before you those whose memory we cherish, 
and those whose names we will never know. 
Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world,
and grant us grace to pray for those who wish us harm. 
As we honour the past, may we put our faith in your future; 
for you are the source of life and hope, now and for ever.  Amen

BLESSING
God grant to the living grace, 
to the departed rest, to the Church, 
the Queen, the Commonwealth 
and all mankind peace and concord, 
and to us and all his servants, life everlasting. 
And the blessing of God Almighty, 
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, 
be among us and remain with us always. Amen