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Sun 8/11/20

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am  Radio 4 Sunday Worship 
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at: https://chestercathedral.com/stream/
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: https://www.facebook.com/christchurchgipsyhill
The Prayer Book Society continue to livestream a wide range of Book of Common Prayer Services available at: https://www.pbs.org.uk/churches-and-services/-1


Sermon for Remembrance Sunday 2020
Psalm 90: 1 – 4, 13 – 17; Romans 8: 31 – end


Marking Remembrance Sunday in the midst of a global pandemic casts an interesting light as we remember the wars which have shaped our country.  In general, I’m not sure that the comparisons used early in lockdown between the pandemic and the Second World War were all that helpful.   Nonetheless our experience has some similarities which might help us to understand a little more of what it meant for those who lived through the First and Second World Wars in particular.  

We find ourselves, in a situation which is bigger than we are and beyond our control.  A situation apparently without end, and which, if we are honest, frightens us.  Think of our growing frustrations after 7 or 8 months and remember, or imagine, how it felt to live like that for 4 years during the First World War and 6 years during the Second World War. 

 In the early days of the pandemic we experienced a little of rationing as stocks of flour, pasta, toilet roll and milk ran low; for us an inconvenience lasting a few weeks; not the general rationing on essential items which lasted for years during and after World War 2.  

We are experiencing the frustrations of restrictions on our lives and the very real sense of separation from family and friends; how much worse to have watched whole communities and whole families march away to war?  

And yes, we know something of the fear of death.  Every death from COVID-19 is a tragedy and for the family and friends of those left behind the pain and grief are very real.  So to too, was the loss of life in vast numbers on the battlefields of Passchendaele, Ypres and the Somme; those who died on the beaches of Dunkirk;  in Pearl Harbour and Berlin.

Our experiences are very different, yet they give us small insights into the experiences of those who lived through the First and Second World Wars, and some of those insights can help us as we remember today.

Our sense of being part of something out of control; of all-pervading fear; of frustration at restrictions and of any clear idea when the pandemic may end, are, for very different reasons, shared with those who have lived through wars of any kind.

These are strong emotional and mental reactions.  So where can we look for help?  Where have our forebears looked for help in times of conflict and plague?

Down the ages, the Psalms have provided a source of prayer and comfort to people of Jewish and Christian faith.  We read those prayers in Psalm 90 this morning.  God has been our dwelling place; our shelter since the creation of the world.  He is the one to who we plead ‘Turn O Lord, How long?  Have compassion on your servants.’  Whether it be a prayer to God to turn us from war or pandemic.

Yet sometimes such comforting reminders and honest prayers seem altogether too polite.   We would rather echo the words of Siegfried Sassoon in his poem Attack!,  Experiencing the trenches of the First World War, Sassoon’s cry was simply ‘O Jesus, make it stop!’  A prayer of honesty, of desperation.

Whether it is in our places of private despair, or in the public square of war and pandemic, there is a place for blunt, honest prayer.

So often, the place of despair drives us to complete honesty.  An honesty in which we discover that, in the place of greatest despair, when God could not seem further away, he can be found.  Not as an uncaring, dispassionate God, but as the one who knows brokenness and shares our pain and despair.

Reflecting on an experience of long and extreme illness, Rachel Mann, a priest in the Manchester Diocese, writes of being in the place of utter despair and finding the hidden God who is not just a comfort, but the God who is broken; the God who is love.  She writes: ‘… [This God] is not present even in the ordinary run of life’s ups and downs’.  [He] is hidden from us until we are seemingly utterly broken… this is God in all [his] stark love… God who holds crucifixion and death in [his] depths.

It is only when we are be bluntly honest with God, in the despair of personal distress; pandemic or war past, present and future, that we discover God who is big enough, and broken enough to provide the comfort and shelter we need.  

Only then will we discover, along with Paul, a God who prays for us, and from whose love no hardship or distress, can separate us.

Amen. 

S Anne Lawson

3 November 2020



Prayers for Remembrance Sunday


Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray to Almighty God for the needs of the world.

Where there is war and conflict, we pray for peace and security;

where there is injustice and oppression, we pray for justice and freedom;

where there is hatred and distrust, we pray for harmony and understanding;

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.


We pray for world leaders and all who exercise influence over others,

that they may act wisely and justly and seek the common good;

for the United Nations and all international organisations working for 

justice and peace;

that they may be strengthened and upheld by your presence.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.


We pray for all who suffer as a result of war,

in body and mind or spirit;

for all who have lost their homes and possessions.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


We offer these prayers through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Other Prayers for Remembrance Sunday


An Act of Penitence

Minister 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 what is wrong,

and our failure to seek and establish that peace

which God wills for his children.


All 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.

Minister Almighty God,

who forgives all who truly repent,
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.

All Amen.


An Act of Hope and Commitment

Minister Let us commit ourselves to responsible living and 

faithful  service.


Will you strive for all that makes for peace?

All We will.


Minister Will you seek to heal the wounds of war?

All We will.


Minister Will you work for a just future for all humanity?

All We will.


Minister Merciful God, we offer to you the fears in us

that have not yet been cast out by love:

may we accept the hope you have placed 

in the hearts of all people,

and live lives of justice, courage and mercy;

through Jesus Christ our risen redeemer.

All Amen.



HYMNS

O God our help in ages past https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjdmLstpNGEhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjdmLstpNGE

God is our strength and refuge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FpPgQiSNrk

For the healing of the nations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FpPgQiSNrk

Who would true valour see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiSAjwtpFUc

The Last Post https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDS3TxtGaQ0

The Reveille https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_peXjzFQ2_c