Call to Worship: Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us; may He make His face to shine on us, so that His ways may be known on earth, and His salvation be known among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, O God, may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad, and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with justice, and you guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God, may all the peoples praise you.
The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us:
May God continue to bless us, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him. Amen
Hymn CH4 192
All my hope on God is founded,
All my trust he will renew;
Safe through change and chance he guides me,
Only good and only true.
God unknown, He alone
Calls my heart to be his own.
Human pride and earthly glory,
Sword and crown betray our trust;
Though with care and toil we build them,
Tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower.
God’s great goodness lasts for ever;
Deep his wisdom passing thought;
Splendour, light and life attend him,
Beauty springing out of nought.
Evermore, from his store,
New-born worlds rise and adore.
Still from earth to God in heaven
Sacrifice of praise be done,
High above all praises praising
For the gift of Christ his Son.
Hear Christ call one and all;
Those who follow shall not fall.
Prayer of Approach
Great and wonderful God, our help in ages past, with joy and gratitude we come once again to worship you in this holy place. It is good for us to be here, and we are glad to be here.
Bless our worship, we pray, guiding our words and our thoughts in accordance with your will.
In Lauderdale’s autumn your beauty is all around us, in leaf and sky, in field and hedgerow.
For all your gifts, of health and home, family and friends, peace in our streets, and provision for all our needs, we praise and thank you.
For the gift of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, we praise and thank you.
For the Holy Spirit, our guide through change and chance, we praise and thank you.
For all human acts of courage, kindness and selflessness,
whether in war-time or peace-time,
in everyday life or in the challenge of pandemic,
we bless and praise your holy name.
As you have been our help in ages past, so you are our hope for years to come.
Holy and righteous God, we confess with sorrow the damage caused to both the natural world and to human welfare by human greed, human cruelty and human carelessness.
We confess that we are sinful people, guilty of pride, selfishness, and apathy.
Hear us now, Father, as we make private confession of our sins to you.
To aid our meditation, while we speak privately to God, our organist will play the music whose words are:
“God have mercy; Christ have mercy; God have mercy.”
God, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. God, have mercy.
Merciful Father, grant us the grace of true repentance.
Forgive our sins as we have confessed them to you,
and grant us the strength and guidance of your Holy Spirit,
that we may live lives more worthy of your great salvation;
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
First Reading: Psalm 85: 8-13
I will listen to what the Lord God is saying,
For he is speaking peace to his faithful people,
And to those who turn their hearts to him.
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
That his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met together,
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring up from the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed grant prosperity,
And our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness shall go before him,
and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.
I want to tell you, very briefly, the stories of four men – four ordinary men, not professional servicemen, who served their country in the wars of the last century.
Bob was barely a man when he went to enlist in the Seaforth Highlanders in December 1914, when he was aged sixteen. The recruiting officer told him to take a walk around the block and come back when he was 17, which, like many boys, he duly did. He died of wounds in France in July 1916.
Sandy fought in the second world war, and became a prisoner of war of the Italians. He never spoke of his experiences. He came home eventually to civilian life, to pick up the threads with his young wife, and to meet the small daughter who had been born in his absence
Bill was a radio operator in the Merchant Navy. His ship was captured, and he became a prisoner on board the Graf Spee.
Address 1 (cont.)
Bill spoke well of its commander, Captain Langsdorf, who was, he said, a gentleman. Bill was proud of the fact that his captors never found his log-books – wherever he had hidden them, they remained hidden. He was set ashore at Montevideo before the Graf Spee was scuttled after the Battle of the River Plate.
Bertie was younger than the last two, and is the only one of the four still alive, at the age of 99. He joined the Fleet Air Arm. Years after the war he spoke of the moment when, after the loss of a close friend and shipmate, he finally understood that, when in operation over the Atlantic, he was utterly alone – he and the other pilots would be escorting convoys, and while they engaged enemy aircraft the ships would be moving steadily on. Sometimes in the darkness the airmen could not find their mother-ship, the aircraft carrier, again – and, running out of fuel, would end in the sea.
Bill, the radio operator who successfully hid his log-books, was my father’s brother. Sandy and Bertie married two of my father’s sisters, Bertie having met his beloved Marie when both were stationed in Orkney. As for poor young Bob, he was part of my grandmother’s household, and my mother, who was only 8 when he died, understood him to be the son of a neighbour who had died in later child-birth. But when the centenary of the first world war came round, my sister researched Bob’s history, and discovered that he was in fact my mother’s cousin, the son of my grandmother’s unmarried sister, and, in practice, though not by birth, my grandmother’s oldest child. One hundred years after his death we could finally know him as a member of our family.
There is nothing remarkable about any of these men or their stories. Any family of the time could produce similar histories. But they illustrate the extent to which ordinary men and women, and their families, had their lives turned upside down by the wars of the twentieth century. Men, and women, who in more peaceful eras would have, most likely, lived, raised families and died in one place and one job, found themselves scattered over the globe, facing undreamed-of experiences and unimaginable dangers. And men, and women, who would certainly not regard themselves as heroes, found the strength and the courage to cope with danger, with fear, with dislocation, with imprisonment, with loss; while at home their families carried on despite deprivation, loneliness, fear, and the dreadful anguish of not knowing whether their son, brother, lover, were free or captive, alive or dead.
Address 1 (cont.)
There were men very like Bob and Sandy, Bill and Bertie, serving under enemy flags. Not all who fought on our side were saints: not all who fought on the enemy side were villains. Most were ordinary folk like us.
And so we turn to our Gospel reading.
St Matthew 5: 43-48
This passage is part of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount
You have heard that it was said: “Love your neighbour, and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax-collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We human beings are strange creatures, capable both of generosity and heroism, of cowardice and selfishness, of cruelty and wickedness. But one of the great gifts with which our Creator has honoured our race is the freedom to choose. Sometimes there may be circumstances where there may seem no good choice, when perhaps all choices bring evils, and we must choose the lesser evil. Then again, in times of great adversity, it may be that the only choice is how to bear suffering – whether with fortitude or despair; with concern for self or concern for others.
Those who go to battle to protect the weak have made a choice, as do those who, refusing to kill, volunteer for humanitarian service. In peacetime we may choose to stand up for the vulnerable, or to look the other way, and get on with our own lives. One concept which may guide our choices is that of duty – our duty as human-beings; our duty to God and to our neighbour.
Address 2 (cont.)
Duty is not a particularly popular word in this era of individual autonomy. Perhaps in our own times no-one exemplifies the concept of duty more fully than does our ninety-four-year-old monarch. But she draws her concept of duty from her Christian faith; and in the story of that faith duty to God is personified in our Lord Jesus Christ, who chose the way of the Cross, over against all temptations to do otherwise, in his mission to bring reconciliation between humanity and God.
Most great faiths teach that we should love our neighbour. It was Christ who taught, in addition, that we should also love our enemies; and who, as he was crucified, prayed God to forgive those who drove the nails through his hands and his feet.
When St Matthew wrote in his Gospel the command of our Lord that we Christians should love our enemies, and pray for our persecutors, his readers knew that many fellow-Christians had suffered the most vile bestiality at the hands of the Emperor Nero and his servants. They, and we, are commanded to pray for such evil-doers.
These are dark days, which have sometimes invited comparison with war-time – surely a very exaggerated comparison. We are not being bombed out of our homes – nor are we living in enormous refugee camps, with no possibility of isolating ourselves from the virus. Yet, though the enemy today is not a human, but a natural force, there are some points of similarity.
There is again sorrow and stress in social isolation, and in the premature deaths of many. As in war-time, the leaders must take grave decisions, and science and technology must seek means of victory. But as in war-time, it is the response to duty of ordinary people, people like Bob and Sandy, Bill and Bertie, and all the folk who worked and prayed for them at home, which will bring resolution of the crisis.
So, we have choices. In this time of Coronavirus we are all called on to make choices – which may be to put ourselves in the way of risk, as do those who carry out essential work, not only in hospitals, but in manning super-markets, distributing essential supplies, caring for the elderly and vulnerable, teaching young children in school. But there are other choices; of kindness and neighbourliness, as in supporting the isolated and distressed, giving to food banks and other charities.
Address 2 (cont.)
As Captain Tom so imaginatively showed, even the frail and elderly have a part to play. Even just in taking trouble to ensure that we put neither ourselves nor any-one else at risk, we make a choice to stand with the community. And always, whether out at work or isolated at home, we have the privilege of prayer to God, for the well-being of the world.
In our prayers, let us ask that from this tragedy God will yet bring good, in a renewed spirit of cooperation between nations, a healing of divisions within society, and a better way of living in his world. Amen.
Meditation on Hymn CH4 712
Note: this leads up to the Silence and timing, and verses read, The plan is that the music will be played after each verse and continue until we rise for the Silence. Verses 3 and 4 may be omitted
1.What shall we pray for those who died,
those on whose death our lives relied?
Silenced by war but not denied,
God give them peace.
2.What shall we pray for those who mourn
friendships and love, their fruit unborn?
Though years have passed, hearts still are torn:
God give them peace.
3.What shall we pray for those who live
tied to the past they can’t forgive,
haunted by terrors they relive?
God give them peace.
4,What shall we pray for those who fear
war, in some guise, may reappear
looking attractive and sincere?
God give them peace.
5.God give us peace and, more than this,
show us the path where justice is;
and let us never be remiss working for peace that lasts.
2 Minute Silence
After the Silence
They shall grow not 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. Laurence Binyon Poems for the Fallen .
Prayer for Peace
On this day of Remembrance, O God, as we recall those who died in the service of their country, we pray for the peace of the world. Guide the leaders and peoples of every nation, and give them understanding of your righteous will; that the tragedy and horror of war may be averted, and all your human children dwell in peace and safety; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Reading from the Apocrypha – Ecclesiasticus 44 /
Reading from the Apocrypha – Ecclesiasticus 44
Let us now sing the praises of famous men, our ancestors in their generation. The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning.
Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise. But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born.
But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; …
Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake. Their offspring will continue for ever, and their glory will never be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name lives on, generation after generation.
Prayers of Intercession /
Let us bring to God our prayers of intercession, prayers for other people.
Father of all the world, we pray for all nations in turmoil: –
where war destroys hope
where the people fear their government
where health care is lacking
where the hungry go unfed and the poor are denied education
where minorities are persecuted
where childhood is stunted
where women are abused,
Wherever there is darkness, good Lord, send the light of your Spirit.
Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for your family the Church.
Grant her the energy of your Holy Spirit, that she may fearlessly proclaim your Gospel of love and reconciliation and peace.
Prayers of Intercession (cont.)
Great God, hear our prayers for our own nation in this time of challenge.
We pray for our Queen, and for her family and household.
We pray for all who hold positions of power and responsibility
For all who have difficult decisions to take
For those who provide care for others
For all who are sick,
For all whose treatment is delayed because of the epidemic.
For those who suffer because they cannot meet their loved ones
For all who mourn. Pause
And as we remember and give thanks for all the faithful departed, so we pray that you will keep us ever in communion with your whole Church on earth and in heaven, and bring us, in your time, to rejoice together with them in your nearer presence. pause
Now let us join in the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples, saying together:
The Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn CH4 159
Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
Urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way.
Sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided,
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.
Lord, for our land, in this our generation,
Spirits oppresses by pleasure, wealth and care;
For young and old, for commonwealth and nation,
Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.
Lord, for our world; when we disown and doubt him,
Loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain;
Hungry and helpless, lost indeed without him,
Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.
Lord, for ourselves; in living power remake us,
Self on the cross, and Christ upon the throne;
Past put behind us, for the future take us,
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.
God grant to the living, grace; to the departed, rest; to the Church, the Queen, the Commonwealth, and all people, peace and concord; and to us and all his servants, life everlasting.
And the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us and with all for whom we pray, now and always. Amen.