Gates of Hedge End War Memorial

SERVICE AT HOME FOR REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 14th November 2021

(prepared by Rev Tony Parkinson)

Opening (from Psalm 89)

I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

Hymn H&P 403 – God of love and truth and beauty

Prayer:

Creator God, we praise you and worship you.

We adore you, source of all life and all love.

We thank you that however far we stray from your ways, you never forsake us.

Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world, we praise you and worship you.

We adore you, living Word of God, giver of eternal life.

We thank you that through you we have access to the Father, and forgiveness of sin.

Holy Spirit, inspirer and accompanist, we praise you and worship you.

We adore you, God eternally present with us.

We thank you that you draw us closer to God through reminding us of Christ.

God, Creator, Saviour, inspirer, we worship you. Amen

.

Readings:

Isaiah 2.2-4

In the last days

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
    and all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and say,

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.’
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into ploughshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war any more.

Matthew 5.3-10

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Reflection

At the going down of the sun.. we will remember them…

But who do we remember? What do we know of the men and women whose names are inscribed on the cold stone or polished brass of our war memorials?

What of the thousands lying under the regimented ranks of stark white tombstones ‘Known only to God’? Or the unmentioned victims of bombing and massacre, who have no memorial?

We have moved beyond the glorification of war and the celebration of the heroic sacrifice of the few to maintain liberty for the many – but what do we remember – who do we remember – how do we remember?

Let us remember the tragedy of war – that war represents more than a failure of diplomacy – that it is a denial of all that it means to be a follower of the Prince of Peace; and that those who suffer most are those who are the least responsible for what happens.

Let us remember that wars still continue, that women are still widowed and children orphaned, cities are levelled and fields destroyed – that the scars of conflict are not always visible, but continue to haunt lives long after the events.

Let us remember those who gave their lives, those whose lives were taken, and those who live on but permanently damaged. And let us remember those who gave the orders and returned unscathed. Let us remember the legacies of war – demonisation of the other, long-standing hatred, but also acts of sacrificial kindness and genuine reconciliation.

Let us tell the stories to our children and our grandchildren – not just the stories of heroic deeds and horrific events, but the stories of the lives of ordinary people caught up in situations beyond their control. Let us bring out the photographs – give faces to those on the lists of names – give a memorial to those who have none – and thus put stumbling-stones in the way of those who seek to deny what took place.

Let us remember that Jesus said ‘blessed are the peace-makers’ – that Isaiah foretold God’s eternal reign of peace – and pledge ourselves to do all we can to bring peace to God’s world. And if we can do nothing else, let us pray for peace, within our communities, within our nation, and across the world.

Silence: it is traditional to keep a two-minute silence at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday. Take a short time of silence now, whenever you are reading this service, and use it for your own act of remembrance.

Hymn STF 720 – We turn to you

Prayer:

Loving God, as we bring to mind those who have suffered and died in wars past and present, we confess the sin of our nation. We confess that that too often we have we have allowed conflict to escalate rather than making greater efforts for peace. We confess that as individuals we have not stood up for peace and reconciliation. Lord, forgive us…

Hear the gracious words of Christ – ‘Your sins are forgiven; come, follow me.’

As we seek to follow the way of Christ, we pray for the world and for its people.

We pray especially for those affected by wars past and present; for members of the armed services, that they may act with integrity and respect; for politicians, that they may weigh carefully the long-term effects of their decisions; for civilians caught up in conflict zones, that they may be kept safe; and for those who are injured in body or mind, and those who care for them, that they may know your healing and your comfort.

We pray for countries and peoples still recovering from the effects of past wars – for refugees seeking sanctuary, and for those who offer sanctuary; for those trying to rebuild shattered economies and rebuild trust between former enemies, that they may know God’s strengthening power as they seek to be peace-makers.

We pray for ourselves, that we may strive to build God’s kingdom of peace here and now, in our own situations and communities.

We ask all these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,

for ever and ever, Amen.

Hymn STF 132 – O God our help in ages past

Dismissal:

Go into the world in the strength of God;

go into the world taking the love of God;

go and offer God’s peace to all who need peace in their lives.

And may the blessing of God be with us –

the blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

with us now and always, Amen

Note: the reflection in this service is partly inspired by the placing of a Stolperstein (a brass memorial tablet – literally a ‘stumbling-stone’) in a town in Holland in two weeks’ time in memory of my maternal grandparents who died in the Holocaust.