Remembrance Sunday, 2014
(Unusually, the entire service is given as it forms one Act of Remembrance)

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
Welcome
Today, we remember those who have died, and die, in wars across the world, especially the dead of the two World Wars. The First was played out largely but not only in Europe with troops from across the world. The Second War in Europe was rooted in the First’s incomplete peace, filled by fascism in Europe, and in Asia by Japan’s fascist expansion.
We remember those soldiers, both volunteers and conscripts, from Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Europe, East and South Asia who fought and died in the First World War, in China and Spain in the 1930s, in the Second World War in Europe, Africa, and Asia, in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Balkans, and the Middle East. We also remember the millions of civilians, women, children and men, who died in twentieth century wars, including Burma, Central Africa, China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Mozambique, North Africa, the Pacific, Russia, South East Asia, Vietnam, and now in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Syria, and those children, women and men who live on injured in mind or body.
In remembering all who died as a result of war, those who fled from or after war and those scarred by childhood experience of war, we turn to prayer, and to Rupert Brooke’s poem, said on this day in the United Kingdom when, one among many others, the Head of State, who lost close relatives on one side, lays a wreath as does her husband, Prince Philip, who lost close relatives on the other. So let us bring to mind grandfathers and great aunts, brothers and mothers, fathers, sisters and friends who suffered or died directly or indirectly through. Binyon’s poem recalls the lives lost in war, and the responsibility of those left to learn.
‘They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.‘

Silence

Hymn 236 God be in my Head
Prayers of Penitence and Absolution (from Eucharist service form A)
Collect: 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: Amos 5 18-24

Psalm 70 (Complete Jewish Bible text)
1. For the leader. By David. As a reminder. God rescue me! Adonai, hurry and help me
2. May those who seek my life be disgraced and humiliated, may those who take pleasure in doing me harm be turned back and put to confusion.
3. May those who jeer ‘Aha, aha,’ withdraw because of their shame.
4. But may those who seek you be glad and take joy in you, may those who love your salvation always say: ‘God is great and glorious.’
5. But I am poor and needy: God, hurry to me, for you are my helper and rescuer, Adonai, don’t delay!

Second Reading; 1 Thessalonians 5 13-end

Gradual Hymn: 361 For the healing of the nations

Gospel: Matthew 25 1-13

Sermon
Dis-membering is part of war, disassembling, taking apart, places, lives, bodies: re- membering can put back together, making whole again. Not actual bodies, shot at or bombed in past wars or killed today. But in intentionally remembering those who died in war, as we are doing today, we can recognise the greed, envy, covetousness and lust for vengeance which fires war, fed by injustice and inequality, and which none of us as humans are entirely free from. We can join with them, the dead and those traumatised living women and men living as if dead, as we reflect. For as the Epistle makes clear, those who have already died, including those who died before knowing Christ, will not be separated from those who die later, for God is both kindly and inclusive, exemplified by Jesus who, between crucifixion and resurrection, went to hell to ‘harrow,’ or to gather up, all those who had died before in the love of God.
This is a short sermon, because the reflection on Remembrance with which we started and the Litany and the Intercessions to which we shall move, speak loudly enough. But let me nevertheless make a few points. This weekend remembers the 1918 ending of the cataclysmic first world war, begun just 100 years ago, which involved combatants, mainly men, from sixteen countries across the world, of which two, Britain and France, garnered men from a further fifteen or so countries they controlled, India alone providing 1.5 million. We also remember the Second War, in which far more civilians than military were killed in so many parts of the world, in Africa, Asia, Europe, and The Pacific, as well as millions of conscripts and volunteers in both the Allied and Axis armies. But this weekend is also the anniversary of the intentional destruction of the Heidelberg and nearby Synagogues in this lovely Neckar valley in the evil actions of 1938, which is why we had that vivid translation from the Hebrew Bible of Psalm 70, with its direct appeal to God, ‘Come fast, and get a move on!’
In remembering, in placing ourselves together with, those who died and are dying in war, it is that magnificently poetic speech of the prophet Amos which speaks loudest. Imagine him, talking to a happy band of followers, all sure they’d eaten the right things, sat on the correct bench, offered the right dove, done the full complement of prayers, and cosily looking forward to the coming of the Messiah someday. Yet as the Anglican scholar and nun Benedicta Ward of Oxford has said, ‘Our faith is not there to keep us cosy but to make us strong.’ Amos is making clear that outward piety for show stinks, as he bluntly puts it, so if his listeners reckoned they had ‘made enough merit to achieve salvation,’ they were on a dead end track. ‘There’ll be no joy for you lot,’ he makes clear, ‘unless you clean up your act and actually practice the justice and mercy God demands, rather than your trivialising bowing and burning, your “bells and smells.” ‘
It’s really odd that when we think of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, Christians have been taught to see it as a book of violence and of rules. Yes, taking the strand of the bloody History of Israel and Judea, cheerful slaughter fills many chapters, just as does the history of the British, German, French, Dutch, and Spanish, and the more recent Russian and Chinese Empires. And taking the strand of codes for living in right covenant relationship with God, we do indeed find more than a few pages of rules. But the leit motif, the thick rope running through the book is: live in right relationship with God and your neighbours and practice justice or, put more simply, be unfailingly respectful to God and unfailingly fair to those in need, whether rich or poor. ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.’
Yet cannot be at our own convenience and comfort! It is only consistent, continual, and intentional forethought which will keep the light of Christ burning brightly. That is not just now and again, as with the careless bridesmaids, or not when we see our contribution to justice and mercy, to living in right relationship with God and those on our street, our church, our work-place, as an optional extra. What if the oil of reconciliation has dried? Will we be like those young women, rushing round like scalded cats, knocking on doors for help?
Maybe. And it’s when the oil of kindness, the salve of fairness, the ointment of reconciliation are absent that humans begun treating each other like objects. We cannot each solve the problems of the world, but we have an obligation as followers of Christ to consider problems in our own place, by reconciling with those who have hurt us or whom we have hurt, rather than maintaining life-limiting bitterness, and by living in right relationship with God, practising kindness and fairness, love and justice, as our daily bread.
Make a decent effort to keep the light of Christ burning in our lives, or lazily hang around in the dark? It’s up to us.

Silence

Affirmation of Faith
Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist?
All: We believe and trust in God the Father.
Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again?
All: We believe and trust in God the Son
Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world?
All: We believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit. This is the faith of the Church. All This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Silence

THE COVENTRY LITANY OF RECONCILIATION
Provost Richard Howard put the words “FATHER FORGIVE” on the wall behind the charred cross in the ruins of the destroyed cathedral in 1948, because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3.23). These words moved generations of people and are prayed in the Litany of Reconciliation every Friday at noon outside in the ruins and on many other places around the world, including Dresden, which thankfully and for obvious reasons shares in Coventry’s ministry of reconciliation.
Let us pray:
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Silence

Intercessions for Remembrance Sunday, said by 6 congregation members. The response to ‘Lord enfold them in your love’ is: ‘As we hold them in our prayers’

Let us pray for Shia, Sufi and countless other Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Druse and others, terrified, murdered and exiled by those falsely claiming to follow Islam in Iraq and Syria,
Lord enfold them in your love…..As we hold them in our prayers
Let us pray for women and girls abducted and currently abused as acts of war in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Iraq and Syria, for those so treated in past wars in the Balkans, Vietnam, Congo, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Korea, and in all areas of fighting during the World Wars
Lord enfold them in your love….. As we hold them in our prayers
Let us pray for the scars of anxiety and distrust among those older people in this country who, fleeing here as children with their German parents in 1945, often found only rejection.
Lord enfold them in your love…..As we hold them in our prayers
Let us pray for the Jewish community in Heidelberg, remembering the destruction of their synagogue 75 years ago today
Lord enfold them in your love…..As we hold them in our prayers
Let us pray for the women and children in each street in which we live, whose daily lives are filled with the fear or reality of violence.
Lord enfold them in your love…..As we hold them in our prayers
Let us pray that the churches in the world, and this church of which we are part, consistently and actively seek justice and mercy at home and abroad.
Lord enfold the oppressed in your love…..As we hold them in our prayers
And finally, let us each in silence bring to mind family members, friends and acquaintances known to us who have died: may they rest in peace and rise in glory
All: Merciful Father, Accept these prayers for the sake of you Son, our saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

Short silence
The Peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you
Let us share with one another a sign of peace

Offertory Hymn: 237 Take up thy Cross

Eucharist: please turn to page 4 of the service book for the rest of this service. All Christians are welcome to share Communion, or come up for a blessing if you wish.

Final Hymn: 99 O God our help in ages past, omitting verse 5
Blessing and Dismissal

Revd Dr Elizabeth Koepping, Heidelberg. November 9th 2014

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