Morning Worship 08 Nov 2020

Led by: Revd Dr Carla A. Grosch-Miller

NOTE: Due to technical issues the recording of the service stops part way through the Prayers of Concern missing the remaining prayers, the playing of the National Anthem and the final blessing.

2020 Nov 8 Remembrance Day

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Music before service

Prayer of Preparation

Before the hills in order stood or earth received her frame,
from everlasting thou art God to endless years the same.
O Lord, hear our prayer.

Call to Worship

God is our refuge and strength;
a very present help in trouble.                                               Psalm 46.1

I lift up my eyes to the hills –
from whence will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.                                                Psalm 121.1-2

This we call to mind,
and therefore we have hope:
the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning.                                     Lamentations 3.21-23

Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary
they shall walk and not faint.                                     Isaiah 40.31

What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?                          Micah 6.8

We meet in the presence of God, who has held us and those who went before us in firm and tender hands, and who will give us what we need, day by day, to meet the challenges before us. We come to remember. We come to give thanks. We come in prayer, in penitence, and in peace.

Let us pray:

Prayer of Approach and Confession

Our earth is scarred with violence. Our communities are fragmented. Our hope is worn. Lord, come to us. Hear our prayers. Receive our praise. Aright our lives.

For your deepest desire is that the human family would live in peace and justice. You revealed the law to order our relationships. You inspire prophets to warn and admonish. You sent your son, the Prince of Peace, to show us the way. You gather for yourself a faithful people to follow in his way and continue his work.

We are those people, your people. We grieve our failures and foibles. We acknowledge our frailty. We know that we need you. You created a perfectly ordered world and placed us upon it to tend and to till, to serve and protect. We cannot do it without your power, your presence or your purposes guiding our feet.

As we remember and give thanks for the lives of those who paid the ultimate price to preserve and protect our nation, we hold too in our hearts your vision for a new day, when no man, woman or child will raise a hand to harm another, the nations will be at peace, and all will be able to share in earth’s bounty and beauty restored.

Hear us as we pray together as Jesus taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
no earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And 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.

We remember with thanksgiving and sorrow
those whose lives,
in world wars and conflicts past and present,
have been given and taken away.

Our poppy parade, which you will see on the screen, was prepared by the 6thMonkseaton Guides.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;                             Valerie Taylor
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,                Andrew and Sophie Cooke
We will remember them.

The Last Post plays followed by 2 minutes silence and closed by Reveille

DIVISION 49th

Valerie Taylor

(Sent by Robert Chisholm’s Uncle James to his mother)

‘Twas the break of day in Flanders,
And the morning promised bright,
The 19th day of December
And a lovely day to fight.
The Forty-ninth Division
Had got orders to stand to,
But little did they know
What they were going to do.

At five o’clock exactly
The sentry gave a start,
For just beyond he saw a sight
Which touched his softening heart,
‘Twas the greenish fumes of phosgene gas, 
And those awful deadly fumes
Were sweeping towards our lines
To send men to their dooms.

The men kept splendid order
When they heard the gas gong sound;
To fix on all smoke helmets,
The order soon went round.
But some had been slow to heed,
Or their helmets had mislaid,
And every one the gas fumes caught,
Each one a victim made.

Then guns began to thunder,
And shells began to burst;
Each victim of the deadly gas
Was seized with awful thirst;
But drinks were out of question,
For water was not nigh,
And so they lay down in the trenches
To gasp, to choke, and die.

But the rest stuck to it bravely,
And they manned each trench and sat,
They did not mean to let the Huns
Fill up one single gap.
Then the medics got the order,
We are needed right away,
And fearful were the sights
We saw on that eventful day.

There was no volunteering,
For not a man delayed,
Picking up our smoke helmets,
We hurried on parade.
We hurried to the trenches,
To get the sick away.
Amidst a hail of bursting shells,
We had to work all day.

We did our duty willingly,
No order did we shirk,
We knew it was our duty,
‘Twas good and noble work;
And when our work at last was done,
It seemed so strange to me,
To hear the Infantry call out,
Well done! They’re R.A.M.C.

And these are Territorials,
Division Forty-nine,
Although very short in numbers,
Still held the British line.
And there they’ve been for just six months,
In water, mud, and ice,
But still they held the German hordes
As if it was a vice.

There is many a mother in England
Will oft have prayed to God
To take the soul of her son
Who lies beneath the sod.
There’s many a lonely widow,
Whose husband she now knows
Lies ‘neath the sod in Belgium,
Near where the Yser flows. 

But the day is drawing nearer
For the Yorkshire boy’s return,
When the guns have ceased to thunder,
And they get the rest they’ve earned;
They will soon be leaving Flanders,
And coming over the foam,
So prepare a good reception,
When the boys come marching home.

Robert Chisholm’s Uncle James died on 21st April 1918 whilst on active service.

 I vow to thee, my country  (1920, Gustav Holst)                             The Choir of Westminster Abbey
(The Armistice Hymn)

 

Ever-living God we remember those whom you have
gathered from the storm of war into the peace of your presence;
may that same peace calm our fears, bring justice to all peoples
and establish harmony among the nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Valerie Taylor

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Reflection

We who gather this day in the UK, the US and Europe have lived in the longest period of peace, security and affluence the world has known. Today we remember that life has not always been that way, and that there is a cost to freedom, peace and security. A cost that is paid more heavily by some than by others. A cost often paid by those who have the least.

We read from the book of Ecclesiastes, a book of wisdom, the familiar words For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes says it like it is, much as we would prefer that there was no time for war, no time for hate, no time to tear. And surely in these Covid times, we mourn being in a time to refrain from embracing.

When I was in seminary I studied the Christian conversation about when violating the 6th Commandment Thou shalt not murder might be an acceptable Christian activity. The first Christians did not carry weapons and were required to resign from the Roman army before being baptised.[1],[2]With the spread of Christianity and the emperor Constantine’s official adoption of it, things began to look a bit different. In the 4th century Christian argument arose to support taking up war. Whilst railing against the violence that war can engender, Augustine wrote about the potential morality of war. And Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century gave, in Summa Theologicae, the foundation for what came to be known as Just War Theory,[3] articulating principles about when war may be just and necessary.

I confess I am inclined towards pacificism. I know there are things worth dying for. Are there things worth killing for? In the heat of the moment I may have murderous thoughts. But my instinct is that there are very few things worth killing for. It is a dreaded and serious business to engage in armed conflict. For war is hell; its devastations and destructions mind-numbing.

Our remembrance today seeks not to glorify war. Those who have lived through it, who survived the trenches, the desert, the prison camps – would tell you that it is not to be glorified. It is to be grieved. Remembering the fallen alone is not right remembrance in the eyes of God. To remember rightly – honouring the dead and for the sake of the souls and bodies of the living – we need to remember as fully as we can.

We must and we do remember that thousands of men and women have answered the call  to sacrifice their lives for the aims of their government, many of which aims were noble and have secured life and liberty, and some of which were not so noble. It is right to honour those who have given their lives in the service of us all; they are the few whose sacrifice enables the life of the many.

We must also remember that war not only kills servicemen and -women on every side of a conflict, but that the greatest numbers of casualties in armed conflict are civilians. Of the 60 million people who were killed in WW2, 2/3’s of those were civilians.[4]With today’s technology, drones and missiles, even a greater percentage of the dead and wounded in war are ordinary people. War also kills animals and scorches and poisons the earth. As the last surviving veteran of WW1, Harry Patch (who died in 2009), and many others who survived combat will tell you, necessary or not, war is an evil…an evil that kills, maims, harms, haunts and dehumanises.

We must remember that following the example of Jesus, some Christians have refused to take up arms, declaring themselves Conscientious Objectors and suffering derision, persecution, punishment and even loss of life. From the time Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, pacifism has been in our DNA.Not every war is just and necessary, and the Christian is free to refuse to take up arms just as Jesus refused to take up arms when soldiers came to arrest him. We need the courageous witness of CO’s as much as we need our brave troops, to defend the principles and values most dear to us, and to remind us of our dual citizenship: we are citizens of the UK and we are citizens of the kingdom of God. We pray that we will not idolise our government if and when it contravenes God’s justice.

There is power in our remembrance. What and how we remember will fuel our choices as we exercise the personal power each one of us has to spend our lives as we choose.

There is a particular power to how and what we remember in Church. The Bible is full of admonitions to remember, remember, remember. Remember it was God who brought you out of the land of Egypt; remember that you were aliens in the land of Egypt – do not oppress the alien; remember the commandments, recite them to your children, talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise up; take this bread, this cup – do this in remembrance of me. Each Sunday we remember the stories of our faith so that we might re-member – that the Word may become flesh – in our bodies.

Theologian Miroslav Volf[5]says that the question is: Does our rememberingpromote the formation of the communion of love between all people

Perhaps what it is most important to remember today is that human life is precious, vulnerable and tragic. Greed and violence are a part of our world; they are the products of self-centeredness and conflict writ large. To live rightly in our world requires wisdom and courage. Our faith can equip us to look past narrow self-interest to the larger picture: the vision that inspired the prophets of an earth on which the human family flourished, all with enough to eat, each able to sit under their vine or fig-tree, swords beaten into ploughshares [Micah 4:3-4]. A world where peace and justice kiss [Psalm 85:10]; where no more shall the sound of weeping or the cry of distress be heard, no more an infant that lives but a few days or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;  where they shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain. [Isaiah 65:17-25]

This is the vision, the remembrance that feeds and frees us. Our remembering is both past and future: we remember that we are made for love and that our lives are ordered to a future built in hope, a way made by the way we walk today. All time is in our hands; moment by moment, we craft the world in which we hope to live by the way we live. The invitation Jesus issues to us is to give ourselves to the purposes of God, to stand with Jesus as we choose where and how we will give the gift that is our life.

Today we remember the armed forces, conscientious objectors, ordinary people, animals and the earth itself: and we pray for an end to war.

Today we remember the widows and orphans created by war in Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan and wherever loved ones are killed by violence: and we pray for compassion.

Today we remember who we are and whose we are: we are people of the living God, whose justice and peace are our heart’s desire; and we pray for courage.

Today we remember the light of the world which darkness did not overcome (John 1:5): and we pray that our lives might shine through the current darknesses that overshadow our lives – Covid-19, economic insecurity, the climate crisis.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. God grant us the wisdom to recognise the time and the strength to respond as God would have us.

Amen.

Hymn
God of grace and God of glory
Henry Emerson Fosdick

Lucy Cooke singing

God of grace and God of glory,                                                         
on thy people pour thy power;
crown thine ancient Church’s story;
bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil round us
scorn thy Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us,
free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days.

Cure thy children’s warring madness;
bend our pride to thy control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.

Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of thy salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving thee whom we adore.

Prayers of Dedication and Intercession

Valerie Taylor

In our prayers this morning we remember our uniformed organisations – their contribution at this special service was always invaluable but very poignant – we bless them and encourage them to stay safe.  God bless you all!

And now we dedicate our offerings, given generously to the ongoing work at St Andrew’s.  May we use these contributions wisely in your service.  We also bring to you our time, our talents as well as our treasure. We ask you to use all these gifts in your service during these troubled times.  AMEN

Let us pray:

God of all ages, we come before you this morning remembering the date of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, over a hundred years ago.  But then we realise our thoughts are also focussed on today’s troubles.

Loving Lord, help us to grasp the situation of the past but also that of the present, with hope and conviction, knowing that you are always with us.

Over one hundred years ago the final sacrifice was given by many to maintain our freedom.  We pray for those throughout the world today – caught up in conflicts beyond their control.  Give them hope for the future.  We pray for those in authority, in all countries, sometimes driven by greed and power – inspire them to act with compassion and integrity.

We pray for those entrusted with the protection of the world using our environment and fragile resources.  It is a wonderful world which you created, let us not ruin it by our selfishness.

In our own country, blighted by this virus, let us not forget – on a daily basis – those who are homeless, or on the breadline; the marginalised; those suffering with mental health problems exacerbated by our country’s restrictions.  Stretch out your healing hand to all who seek your help.  Remind us not to be too judgmental – and so follow the example that Jesus gave us – treating each other with respect and love.

In our own community remind us repeatedly of the love Jesus showed – and so help us to be generous in our time – to smile at a stranger despite our face mask – give a helping hand to those in need – always remembering our social distancing!  Guide us to be where our help is needed, especially in the coming weeks.  Generous God your love knows no bounds, nor boundaries.

And now at St Andrew’s although unable to sit in church, give us strength of purpose to develop ourselves and each other as we continue on our faith journey.

Compassionate God remind us that you take no sides.  Bless us with a heart that embraces all who need, whether through bereavement, or suffering with the virus.

And so may the Holy Spirit lead us in the path of peace and love.  Help us not to avoid responsibility but to be your disciples in this world – using your only Son Jesus Christ as our guide, our mentor, our advocate but most of all, our Friend.

We humbly ask all of these things through your son, Jesus Christ.  AMEN

Act of Commitment

Let us commit ourselves to responsible
living and faithful service.

Will you strive for all that makes for peace?

We will

Will you seek to heal the wounds of war?

We will

Will you work for a just future for all humanity?

We will

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.

Amen

 

The National Anthem

Royal Choral Society, The Last Night of the Proms

Blessing

God grant to the living grace,
to the departed rest,
to the Church, the leaders of nations
and all people,
unity, peace and concord,
and to us and all God’s servants,
courage and wisdom.

And the blessing of God Almighty,
Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit be with us all
and remain with us always.

Amen

Music after service


The Call to Worship, the prayer after Division 49th, the Act of Commitment and the final Blessing (adapted) come from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s Remembrance Day Service which is used widely across the UK.

[1] Roland Bainton. 1960. Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

[2] Brian Wicker. 2000. “Pacifism” in Adrian Hastings, Alistair Mason and Hugh Pyper, eds. The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought: Intellectual, Spiritual and Moral horizons of Christianity. Oxford: OUP. Pp. 508-509.

[3]Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,www.iep.utm.edu/justwar/ , accessed 05.11.2020.

[4] Kate Guthrie. 2009.  “Reimagining Remembrance” report published by Ekklesia, http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/reimagining_remembranc3 , accessed 12.10.2010.  P. 16.

[5] Miroslav Volf. 2006. The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in aViolent World. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.


CCL No. 213535 / One Licence A-632495

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