Remembrance Sunday                            St. Ninian’s                                   11/11/18  

Micah 4: 1 - 5;                                                                                                   John 5:1 - 17


The week before last I was at St. Pius where Fr. Gregory
was being inducted as the new Parish priest. Bishop Stephen told us that he had
gone to the top of the stairs but hadn’t been able to remember why he was
there. So consequently, he had forgotten his Mitre and Crozier. Forgetting what
you are looking for happens to me a lot, and in other ways too: like searching
for your phone to change an appointment and realising you are speaking to someone
making the appointment on the phone, forgetting addresses or folks’ names. Oh
well I hear you muttering you are just getting old. However, one of the
youngsters in school recently was in full flow when she stopped and said “I can’t
remember what I was talking about.” The teacher and I were delighted and said
together well that gives us hope. Of course, our memory is fickle, it can be
selective and is often hard to maintain. In our Google age, the smart phone has
become a memory substitute. I’m sure most of us here have been part of some
conversation when we’ve googled the forgotten words of a song, what actor
played who, or what the unremembered score was in some famous match? But
remembering is important. Today we pause to remember the guns falling silent
exactly one hundred years ago. What must that have meant to our forebears? The
bells of peace peeled out and our imagination struggles to recover what a
relief that was.

To have peace is an
amazing feeling. I was watching a brother and sister the other day arguing and fighting.
It all started because she stole some of his sweets without asking him. He got
annoyed and then because he was tired had a wee ragi at her which made her
annoy him all the more and then they started to fight. It ended with him being
sent to sit on the stairs and have a think while she smirked and carried on
with her book. In all fairness it was not his fault, he didn’t start it but he
was punished for his behaviour and both of them actually lost some of their
peace to say nothing of the atmosphere in the home. How true is that for all of
us when we lose our peace over some such small and insignificant issue. How
much greater is it when families, communities or nations fall out over often
seemingly small issues and people end up laying down their life for their friends?

A soldier may go to war
in search of adventure or out of high principles and ideals; but when he fights
to the death it is for his mates, for his friends. He will do anything for them
because they are an obedient team and our forces work as a team. Today we
honour the memory of those who lost their peace and laid down their lives for
us. The untold numbers in two World Wars and conflicts since including Iraq and
Afghanistan.   We recall their sacrifice and thank God for
deliverance gained at such a price. Greater love had no-one than they lay down
their lives for their friends.

In today’s gospel Jesus speaks
of the love that lays down its life and he is not committing us to a path he
has not himself trodden. It is a lesson in leadership. Where in all the world do,
we see greater love than the love of the Lord Jesus, who laid down his life for
those – once his enemies – whom he names his friends? He left the comfort and
glory of his Father’s right hand, to come to a world of darkness, suffering,
sin and death – to bear the taunts and rejection of men and women who
questioned his motives and challenged his authority. By doing this Jesus opened
up the only way by which sinners such as you and I might be restored to life
and to peace with God.

The Gospel of the Lord
Jesus Christ is the very power of God. He does not call us to go where he
himself has not gone, nor where he will not go with us. The call may be
daunting, but he gives us strength. We cannot measure up to this calling in our
own strength. I am reminded of a verse in Philippians which one of our young
people have on their FB page. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
me.”  Not by our own strength even though
our inner resources may be great, but by the power of Jesus’ risen life within
us. If we try to do it on our own, we fall, we fail and we may lose not only
our own peace but the peace of the world.

Jesus bids you and me to follow
the example he has set, to take a leaf out of his book and to mirror his great costly
love that laid his life itself upon the altar, and if needs be to yield it up. I
think of the great love shown by those throughout the generations whose names
we honour today and imperfectly assess the measure of their love by the
sacrifice they made following our Lord’s example and instruction. Not only
those who have served in war, but each of us is called daily to follow the
example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have been called on to die for their
friends. The rest of us have been called to live for ours. There is still a
commitment. There is still a cost. But there is also a that promised strength.

Less that a fortnight after the guns ceased, Lloyd
George, then Prime Minister, said, ‘What is our task? To make Britain a fit
country for heroes to live in.” I am not sure that in 100 years we have achieved
that yet but we must continue to try. 

Today we shine a light in the darkness of the mud
and the mire, the bombs and missiles and the sophistication of modern war and assert
that not one of those lost were unknown by God. It is easy to say we love God, but we show it by loving God’s people. The
imperative of remembrance is the outcome of honestly facing our former enemy.
We might protest, and say that it is for them to change but my first word has
to be ‘sorry’. It’s such a heavy, weighted word which rolls so effortlessly off
the tongue. It’s too easy to speak of us and them, to pass the buck and to duck
our responsibility but we can’t just load the guilt onto someone else. Honesty
makes its demands. If I truly recognise myself in you, and you can see yourself
in me, if I could, just for a moment, see things as you see them, and you could
see them as I see them, then we must both change and then perhaps I could come
to act differently.’ 

Remember what you will
but remember peace begins with me.




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