Hello everyone! On Remembrance Sunday one of our local preachers, Rosemary Green led the opening section of the service before we were joined by the official group who started their service at the War Memorial. Rosemary began the service with singing ‘O God our help in ages past’ and then she used this excellent prayer, which she apparently found in the Methodist Recorder one year, written by a Jew, Jack Riemer, Rabbi – entitled ‘Social Action’ in (Likrat Shabbat)
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war;
For we know that You have made the world in a way
That man must find his own path to peace
With himself and with his neighbour.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation;
For You have already given us the resources
With which to feed the entire world
If we would only use them wisely.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice;
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see good in all men
If only we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair;
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease;
For You have already given us great minds
With which to search out areas of healing,
If we would only use them constructively.
Therefore we pray to You instead, O God,
For strength, determination, and willpower,
To do instead of just pray,
To become instead of merely to wish.
Rosemary led us in the 2 minutes silence and then we waited quietly listening to our organist’s playing until the council members, the Mayor and the representatives from the armed forces joined us with other people who had begun the ceremony by the War Memorial led by our minister Trevor Smith with the RC minister, Monsignor Donal Lucey reading Micah 1v1-4 and the Act of Remembrance being led by a member of the local Royal British Legion, Mr Elwyn Pickering. The last post had been played at the War Memorial and the Kohima Epitaph read too.
Trevor welcomed everyone to the service in Wesley Chapel and we all sang ‘O worship the King all glorious above;’ and then led us in the prayer of confession and pronounced absolution. The Deputy Mayor read Isaiah 2v1-4 and we sang ‘For the healing of the nations’ by Fred Kaan; the words express the need to end wars and conflict of all kinds. Matthew Chapter 5v1-12 was read by the Mayor.
Trevor then preached. He thought back to previous services he had been part of over the years at War Memorials. Some War Memorials were easy to read, but the one in Barking had been made out of the wrong sort of stone and the names had worn off and a millennium project finally renewed it. In Wesley Chapel there is a plaque too. Trevor thought it was important to remember the bravery and sacrifices from the wars, even those who are unknown. It has special poignancy this year, as we saw so many injured in war competing in the Paralympics. However we do not see those mentally scarred, and nor do we remember that many ex servicemen are in our prisons, nor do we remember the partners, wives, husbands whose lives are changed forever!
Remembrance reminds us to seek peace and reconciliation. It helps us step forward to seek that peace and reconciliation, not just an absence of war, but a sense of wellbeing. Coventry was destroyed in 1940 but by 1962 the new Coventry Cathedral had been built in the ruins of the old cathedral; the message of forgiveness has been chosen rather than revenge; ‘Father forgive’. Trevor said that a ‘forgettory’ was better than a memory; he reminded us that we need to try and forget some things or there will be no forgiveness, reconciliation or peace and we are called to seek peace. In Christ God forgives our sins and restores us through divine love.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are not easy as is seen in Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine or Iraq where memories continue to poison the present and the future. Forgiveness is essential for healing and reconciliation. Some learn to forget to hate but feel compassion and love; sacrifices can be made to continue wars but to forget wars and have peace and reconciliation. Some of the fallen in war have no names and others are in mass graves such as in Kosovo, so to prevent more such losses we need to forget misplaced pride or nationalism, hate or persecution. The past sacrifices were made in the hope that war would be forgotten and humanity would find peace and reconciliation. He urged us not to study war any more and concentrate not on what divides us as one human race.