We come from scattered lives to worship God, whose purposes are good; who loves us , though we have failed in his service; Today we will reflect on the price of freedom as we remember with thanksgiving all those who have given their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoy today. A price that is still being paid with more than 7,000 British Servicemen and women killed on active service since 1945. We will remember with sorrow those whose lives in war and conflicts past and present, have been given and taken away. We will pray for all who suffer the consequences of warfare. We will have the opportunity to commit ourselves to work in penitence and faith for peace and the welfare of nations.
God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46.1
This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Lamentations 3.21-23
Faithful Heavenly Father, whose word is life:
Come with saving power
To free our praise
Inspire our prayer
And shape our lives
For the kingdom of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord
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.
After a short silence, all say
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.
Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for Today
Eternal God, in whose perfect realm no sword is drawn but the sword of justice, and no strength known but the strength of love: guide and inspire all who seek your kingdom, that peoples and nations may find their security in the love which casts out fear; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Jesus is talking to his followers and he says, “ I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you” . A master gives servants orders, but a friend communicates with friends, sharing intimacies and trust. This friendship is contingent on the obedience of the followers—“You are my friends if you do whatever I command you” Jesus and his followers have not become equals, and their friendship is not a democracy. Jesus is Lord, and expects obedience.
Perhaps we can better understand this phrase in the light of its contemporary usage at the time of Christ. In Roman courts, the phrase “friends of the Emperor” referred to the few people who were closest to and had easy access to the emperor. Jesus offers us that kind of access to himself . our access to him is through prayer
Jesus says ”Greater love has no one than he lay down his life for his friends”. At this point, his followers do not understand that Jesus is preparing them for the fact that he is going to sacrifice his life for their future well-being. His death will be the price paid for his friends to be reconciled to God and be welcomed into God’s Kingdom. Friends of Jesus can be assured of their tomorrow because he died for them. We to are Jesus’ friends if we do what he commands. His commandment to love each other as he has loved us also requires serious sacrifice. The love of which Jesus speaks is more than a feeling—it is love in action—love that pays the price. This love is showing genuine concern for the well-being of others and taking practical steps to help them in their troubles. Not because we like them, not because we know them, not because they are of the same ethnic background as us, not because they share the same opinions and tastes as us, not because they have the same faith as us, not in order to get something in return, but simply because they are a fellow human being.
Today we remember all those ordinary people who as members of our armed forces have made the ultimate sacrifice to try and preserve the freedom and justice of ourselves and others. Although it is true that whilst in combat the soldier would be fighting for the other members of their unit, the lives that were given up were ultimately done so for the benefit of people that the individual soldier did not know and had never met.
At Kohima 2,500 Allied troops came under siege from a formidable force of 15000 Japanese soldiers. The Kohima war cemetery is serene and beautiful. Roses bloom in season, the grass is always billiard-table smooth and two tall crosses stand at the lowest and highest points of the cemetery overlooking Kohima. between them, and stretching all the way across this gently rising hill in the centre of the town, are 1378 stone markers with shining bronze plaques. Each commemorates the name of a single man who gave his life for freedom. At the base of the upper cross there is an inscription which says :
“Here, around the tennis court of the deputy commissioner lie the men who fought in the battle of Kohima in which they and their comrades finally halted the invasion of India by the forces of Japan in April 1944”
The lower memorial reads “When you go home
Tell them of us, and say,
For their tomorrow
We gave our today”
The second world war is not the only occasion when the ultimate sacrifice has been made for the sake of others to bring them peace and Justice
Here is Just one example Between 1992 and 2009, British forces were involved in United Nations mandated multilateral peacekeeping missions to end the atrocities taking place in the Balkans conflicts. 72 British forces personnel lost their lives in order to give others a free and just future.
But as well as remembering with gratitude those who gave up their lives for a better tomorrow for people they did not know. We should also spare a thought for the thousands of servicemen and women who as a result of conflict have been left disabled and or suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder , experiencing regular flash backs of horrific incidents , mentally scarred for the rest of their life. They too have not returned to their previous life. They have not lost their life but never the less they have laid their old life aside for someone else’s benefit.
As we remember the sacrifices made by members of our armed forces for the benefit of others not known to them. I ask myself Do we really honour those sacrifices by simply wearing a poppy for one week a year and then forgetting the example they have set us? As Christians We are called by Jesus to show genuine concern for the well-being of others and take practical steps to help them in their troubles for no other reason than they are fellow human beings. So, what parts of our lives today are we willing to lay aside for the good of others?
Right now the world is facing a global crisis with potential devastating consequences far greater than that posed by the second world war namely , global warming. Research published by Oxfam has shown that the wealthiest 1% are responsible for more than twice the carbon dioxide pollution of the poorest 50 % of humanity combined. Yet it is the poorest who are already being driven from their homes by rising seas or drought. The richest 10%, that is Those with incomes exceeding around £36000 before tax are responsible for 50% of the worlds carbon dioxide emissions. This 10% of the wealthiest families use almost half( 45% of all the energy linked to land transport and three quarters 75% of all the energy linked to aviation. Yet, it is the poorest people who cannot afford to travel that are already feeling the negative affects of our actions. We need to lay aside some of the things we take for granted in our lives for the benefit of others. We all need to act now. Every one of us needs to play our part.
As her majesty the Queen said in her speech to the world leaders at the opening of COP 26
“The time for words has now moved to the time for action……. We none of us will live forever, but We are doing this not for ourselves but for our children and our children’s children and those who will follow in our footsteps.”
So are we prepared to lay aside and give up some of what we currently do and what we aspire to do out of genuine concern and practical support for those already troubled by Global warming. Do we love our fellow human beings enough to pay a price that will cost us by laying down any part of our lifestyle today for someone else’s better future?
Think about that as we remember with thanksgiving all those who were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for others unknown to them. giving up their today for our tomorrow.
In peace let us pray to the Lord. We pray for the leaders of the nations, that you will guide them in the ways of freedom, justice and truth and they will work for the good of all mankind
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for those who bear arms on behalf of the nation, that they may have discipline and discernment, courage and compassion.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for our enemies, and those who wish us harm, that you will turn the hearts of all to kindness and friendship.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for all service personnel and their families who in disability, pain and bereavement continue to suffer the consequences of combat and terror, that in all their struggles they may experience your loving support, comfort and peace.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for civilians caught up in current conflicts. In particular we pray for the wounded and the captive, the grieving and the homeless, that in all their trials they may know your love and support.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for ourselves that guided by your Spirit we will truly demonstrate our willingness to love one another as you loved us.
Lord in your mercy , hear our prayer
Most holy God and Father, hear our prayers for all who strive for peace and all who fight for justice. Help us, who today remember the cost of war, to work for a better tomorrow; and, as we commend to you lives lost in terror and conflict, bring us all, in the end, to the peace of your presence; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Blessing and dismissal
A Sending out Prayer
The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit , be with us all and remain with us always
The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.
The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.
“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”