Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings Remembrance service.
Worship today is led by Jim Hewitt and our message is from the Rev Stuart Bell.
Click below on the red play button to start the video. You can also find the service on YouTube here if it isn’t working on the blog.
God Bless x
If you start this video at 10:25am the 2 minute silence will be at 11am.
Stuart shares with us this video also.
Thank you to all those who have been part of putting together this weeks service.
Message - Rev Stuart Bell
One of the Gospel readings suggested for Remembrance Sunday is Matthew 5. 1-12, the beatitudes. One presumes that it was chosen for verse 9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” This statement by Jesus is at first sight unexceptional. Had he said “Blessed are the warmongers”, then that might have been far more remarkable!
The problem for Remembrance Sunday is how we relate that beatitude to the whole question of the Christian response to war. None of us, one hopes, would want to be called a warmonger. We all want peace. The first question is how such peace can be achieved; the second is the appropriate Christian response to the reality of war involving the country of which we are a citizen.
For those of a certain age, the repetitive singing of “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” will be very familiar. The tune to which it was sung – and perhaps still is sung – gives a warm sentimental feeling not unlike that engendered by some of the “syrupy” easy-listening songs of the 1960s and 70s. The words suggest that if everyone in the world was nice to each other, then all would be well: “Peace, brother, peace”.
The reality of peace-making is, of course, quite different and far more challenging. For British Christians faced by World War One, the question was whether the rise of a Germany determined to conquer Europe meant that God’s repeated call for justice and righteousness, supporting the oppressed, throughout the Bible justified the taking up of arms.
The Christians in Britain in the 1930s supported enthusiastically the League of Nations as the new guardian of world peace – until the realisation dawned that it was ineffective in the face of Hitler’s Germany. Then the question was whether to re-arm or to seek to appease. Once war had broken out, the challenge was whether to join the armed forces or to be a conscientious objector.
In the 1960s, many Christian peace-makers focussed on the threat of nuclear Armageddon. More recently, the threats to world peace have become far more varied and, because of that, far harder to address.
To reaffirm “blessed are the peacemakers” is not for one minute to bring into question the integrity and faith of those Christians who took up arms – tens of thousands of Methodists among them – in the First World War. Nor the Second, nor Korea, nor the Falklands, nor Iraq, nor Afghanistan, nor any of the other conflicts of the last 75 years. That beatitude did not give nice easy answers to the questions and challenges faced by Christians over the last century or so. Every generation struggles with reconciling the Gospel imperative for peace with the reality of a world populated by fallen humanity.
“Let there be peace on earth” was written in 1955. 1955 was a very, very good year! In exactly the same year, Pete Seeger wrote the first three verses of “Where have all the flowers gone” with its haunting repetition of “When will they ever learn, when will they every learn”. The song offers a lament, but no answer to the question. It is a lament which we repeat every Remembrance Sunday, and many times in between. Until humanity does learn, then we are destined to have to continue to remember those who have died because of its failure.
But we have to ask ourselves, how does peace on earth “begin with me”?