13th November 2022 6.30pm – Remembrance Sunday Eucharist

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22 11 13 Remembrance Sunday Eucharist

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The Readings

Malachi 4. 1 - 2a

See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

Luke 20. 27 - 38

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.’

Jesus said to them, ‘Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’

Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By the Revd Dr Alan Billings.

On the walls here in St Mary’s are two sets of memorial boards commemorating those who
gave their lives in two world wars.

Those wars continue to influence the way we think about war - what we remember and
how we remember. Let me say a brief word about each.

First, what we remember. Some years ago I was sitting in an outdoor cafe on the
Champs-Elysee in Paris, sipping coffee and looking towards the Arc de Triomphe – that
great monument that the French built to commemorate the French revolutionary and
Napoleonic wars. On every side of it there are lists of all the great battles. It's a triumphal
arch celebrating victory and honour and glory in war.

Contrast that with our monument to the Great War in Whitehall.

Not a triumphal arch but a cenotaph. What we remember there are the Fallen. What we
recall is not so much victory as the cost of victory, the human price that was paid. Which is
why, whatever our individual views about the morality of war in general or any war in
particular, we can join in services today because they are not about glorifying war but
about remembering those who died. That is what we remember and it dates from the First
World War.

Then there's how we remember, and this is perhaps more controversial. How do we
remember these deaths? What meaning do we give to them?

One way is to see war, especially the Great War of 1914 exclusively through the eyes of
the war poets. They write about the awfulness of war – the trenches, the mud, the rats, the
dysentery. Men going over the top and dying like slaughtered beasts. Men gasping for
breath or made blind by poisonous gas. Men made crazy through constant bombardment.
And it is important not to forget that.

One man who expressed all this in poetry was an Anglican army chaplain, Geoffrey
Studdert Kennedy. He was nicknamed Woodbine Willie by the troops because he always
carried a packet of Woodbines, cigarettes, to give to wounded soldiers. Although he was
awarded the Military Cross for bravery, he became disillusioned and wrote this about war:

Waste of Muscle, waste of Brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,
Waste of Blood, waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth's most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of Glory, waste of God, - War!

Studdert Kennedy saw no sense in war and became a pacifist – as many did in the 1920s.
That is one way of looking at war – to see it as so many wasted lives.

But it's not the only way. And it's not the way the nation on the whole saw things as they
looked back on the Great War and set up war memorials across the country in almost
every town and village.

The hymn O valiant hearts is how most people saw matters at the end of the war. It draws
on words of Jesus, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his

The death of men and women in conflicts is seen in the light of Christ's death on calvary –
not as a waste, not even as a tragedy, but as a sacrifice, a life freely given up for the sake
of others - a lesser calvary, though a calvary none the less. I imagine this is how people in
Ukraine think of the deaths of their soldiers now.

This way of giving meaning to deaths in conflict has a down-side, of course. It makes it
more difficult to question wars once embarked upon, because that might seem like being
disrespectful towards the dead.

At one time I used to spend part of each year teaching ethics to officers in the armed
forces at the UK's Defence Academy and in Paderborn, in Germany. If those men and
women were to commit their lives to a cause, they needed to know that it had a moral

I think Christians have come to see, after many mistaken judgements in the past, that we
must never again speak of any war as holy – as a jihad or a crusade. War remains an evil,
even if there are times in a fallen world when it is a necessary evil or the lesser of evils -
and even then only as a last resort.

But when we do find ourselves saying – as we have in the past and may do in the future –
that a particular conflict is a just war, what will sustain the partners, the children, the
families and the friends of those killed in action, is that same idea of sacrifice.

In their grief and loss, what enables the bereaved to face the future is the thought that the
lives of their loved ones were not wasted, were not in vain and were not taken away; but,
for our sake, they were lives laid down. And greater love has no one than that.



The Prayers

Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,
and ask that God may give us peace:

for the service men and women
who have died in the violence of war,
each one remembered by and known to God;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For those who love them in death as in life,
offering the distress of our grief
and the sadness of our loss;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For all members of the armed forces
who are in danger this day,
remembering family, friends
and all who pray for their safe return;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For civilian women, children and men
whose lives are disfigured by war or terror,
calling to mind in penitence
the anger and hatreds of humanity;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For peacemakers and peacekeepers,
who seek to keep this world secure and free;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For all who bear the burden and privilege of leadership,
political, military and religious;
asking for gifts of wisdom and resolve
in the search for reconciliation and peace;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

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 the 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.