Morning Service for 2nd before Advent 2021 – Remembrance Sunday

HYMN Christ is the world’s true light NEH 494 – Nun danket

1. Christ is the world’s true light,
Its Captain of salvation,
The Daystar clear and bright
Of every man and nation;
New life, new hope awakes,
Where’er men own his sway;
Freedom her bondage breaks,
And night is turned to day.

2. In Christ all races meet,
Their ancient feuds forgetting,
The whole round world complete,
From sunrise to its setting:

When Christ is throned as Lord,
Men shall forsake their fear,
To ploughshare bear the sword,
To pruning-hook the spear.

3. One Lord, in one great Name
Unite us all who own thee;
Cast out our pride and shame
That hinder to enthrone thee;
The world has waited long,
Has travailed long in pain;
To heal its ancient wrong,
Come, Prince of Peace, and reign. Amen.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen


We recall our Lord’s command to love and in a moment of silence we confess 

the many ways we fail to keep his command:

Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
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.  Amen

May the God of love and power
forgive us and free us from our sins,
heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,
and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.


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 – Daniel 12.1-3

“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

HYMN O God of earth and altar NEH 492 – Kings Lynn

1 O God of earth and altar,

Bow down and hear our cry,

Our earthly rulers falter,

Our people drift and die;

The walls of gold entomb us,

The swords of scorn divide,

Take not thy thunder from us,

But take away our pride.

2 From all that terror teaches,

From lies of tongue and pen,

From all the easy speeches

That comfort cruel men,

From sale and profanation

Of honour and the sword,

From sleep and from damnation,

Deliver us, good Lord!

3 Tie in a living tether

The prince and priest and thrall,

Bind all our lives together,

Smite us and save us all;

In ire and exultation

Aflame with faith, and free,

Lift up a living nation,

A single sword to thee.

GOSPEL – Mark 13.1-8

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.


If there is a theme to our readings today it is endurance, hanging on to the end; perhaps the bitter end. It is a theme that it is appropriate for today, Remembrance Sunday. Any old soldier will tell you that a great deal of warfare is about endurance, and it is often the side whose spirit is broken first, whose will to fight has gone, that is defeated. 

There’s nothing very glamorous about endurance, it carries with it no thoughts of the excitement of victory, there’s no adrenalin rush of the charge into battle, no thrill of the bugle call. Endurance is a concept with no glamour; it’s a trudge and not a dash, a slog and not a sprint. It’s enough to compare the look of a marathon runner after his race with the look of a sprinter after his. Endurance is about pain and weariness, exhaustion and boredom. 

John McCrae was a Canadian army surgeon who served in the dressing stations of the First World War. It was while he was at Ypres in 1915 that he wrote the most famous of his verses:

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Even amongst all the carnage, the awful waste of young life that he was immersed in, day after day he could write of not breaking faith, not giving up the cause, enduring to the end. This last verse is often not included when it is read in schools at this time of year – and yet that was the point of his poem, that is what he wanted to say. 

Jesus warned his disciples of wars to come, of persecutions and suffering, of rejection by family and friends, trials in front of civil officials and inquisitions before religious authorities. He saw his followers, those who believed in his words and committed their lives to him, as being victims of injustice and persecution, not perpetrators of it. He saw his disciples as unavoidably caught up in the aftermath of other people’s wars – not wagers of war. But then he may not have envisaged a time when his disciples would be numerous enough, and powerful enough, and rich enough, to be able to wage wars – in the cause of right, or in the pursuit of self-interest. 

Theologians such as St Thomas Aquinas have sought to provide some Christian principles that might guide those who rule – they have since evolved and are known as the principles of Just War. The idea is that there are some wars that are right to wage and some that are not. I guess that the majority of us would agree with that – though of course there is endless debate about which are which. Looking at Afghanistan and Iraq which of us is not tempted to say that so much sacrifice was all for nothing.

There are no easy answers. It’s all a matter of judgement. There is one thing that we can ensure though is that no one ever under-estimates, nor is allowed to forget, the true costs of conflict – both on our own service men and women and on the civilian population.

I suppose I could leave it there – but I feel that we must return to Jesus’ warnings. On this day we are thinking of the global, the nation’s wars – but Jesus was usually thinking of the individual – the personal struggle we have to hold to the faith in a hostile environment. His warning was that it would be costly – this is not something that many of us have experienced, but in an increasingly secular nation we should be prepared for that to change. Ask teenagers that go to a church how keen they are to broadcast the fact at school, and talk to them about being persecuted for their faith. And see the fate of the whistle-blower in a commercial company, or even in the civil service. It’s not high profile martyrdom, it’s trudge not dash, marathon not sprint – but, ‘by you endurance you will gain your souls.’

I hold that today is a day for poets – only poetry can express some of the emotions that Remembrance brings. I’ll end with one of Sassoon’s best.

Aftermath by S. Sassoon. 

Have you forgotten yet?

For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,

Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:

And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow

Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,

Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

But the past is just the same–and War’s a bloody game…

Have you forgotten yet?…

Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz–

The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?

Do you remember the rats; and the stench

Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench–

And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?

Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack–

And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then

As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?

Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back

With dying eyes and lolling heads–those ashen-grey

Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?…

Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

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 NEH 354/AMR 487 – Melita

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.


We remember all those who have lost their lives in conflict and war:  our heroes of the First and Second World War and all those who have come since, including those who lost their lives in Afghanistan.  We think also of all those bereaved and left behind.

Lest we forget …Lord in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We remember all those who are suffering in Afghanistan as it goes into winter and those in war-torn and politically volatile countries.  As COP 26 draws to a close, we pray that world leaders will turn their words into action and help to save the world from cataclysmic climate change.  We pray that they will be just and fair and not forget those in the poorest parts of the world and of society.

Lest we forget …Lord in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We remember everyone in our worshipping communities and thank you for William and all those who lead our services and who help, even in the smallest way.  We also think of our wider communities in Compton, Hursley and Otterbourne and all the wonderful things that people do day in and day out to help others.  Thank you for community and for the sharing of love, 

Lest we forget …Lord in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We remember all those in our own community who are suffering, whether from bereavement, loneliness, or from illness.  We pray that you relieve their suffering and we think of all the friends, family, medical professionals and carers who look after them.  In a moment of silence, we remember all those known to us personally.

Lest we forget …Lord in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

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.

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

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

HYMN O God our help in ages past – NEH 417/AMR 165 – St Anne

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.

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