Sermon by Rev Sydney Maitland for Sunday 14 November 2021.
I believe that it is 100 years since the first remembrance ceremony was performed and the land was still raw from the losses of WW1, not to mention the pandemic that swept the country in 1919.
Now it seems to be part of the national furniture: permanent and even a ceremony mocked and derided by those who see it as a celebration of militarism.
But then the disciples looked at the magnificence of the Temple and Jesus warned then that even this would be swept away in a coming slaughter.
He warned of wars near at hand and wars far away. He told of coming disasters which would unfold before He was going to come back to Jerusalem when this age was over.
And so people wait: Jesus has not returned in clouds of glory and we have erected other institutions that we also honour, even when we complain about them as well.
We have our national parliament, a building, even a fire-trap, now demanding high levels of maintenance and modernizing. We have our Health Service, put to the severest of tests over the last 18 months, and in some places scarcely able to operate.
We have our armed forces, now largely demobilized as we shelter behind our nuclear deterrent which we hope really will deter aggression and miscalculation.
But the message of our lessons is that the final standard of truth is not our own political compromises and occasional triumphs or our relative values but in the person of God and in the image of God that we are given, that is Jesus Christ.
We gather here because of Him and His message and actions and not as a social convenience or convention. It is Jesus who is the word of truth and from whom we take our own sense of being and belonging.
And there is nobody else who is this, or who does what He has done in rising from the dead and in reconciling us with God.
This is the reality in which our lives make sense. It is the mark of a total and unyielding love, which will never let go of those who have committed themselves to Him.
As we gather here in safety we are also aware of the manoeuvres of other regimes not dedicated to peace or open societies, rule of law or open, representative and responsible government.
They resent the wealth of the west and they despise its flabby morality with which they – and that means we – choose to lecture them on proper conduct.
Maybe a nibble here or a pressure there – the opportunity to embarrass and humiliate the west without incurring costs to themselves.
They enjoyed the western panic in Kabul. So what about a little fun in eastern Europe?
Some of us here may find that we also are called to new and demanding duty in a future national emergency.
I want you however to think about this: in the purposes of God, nobody who puts their trust in Him through Jesus Christ will be abandoned. Amid anguish and sorrow, He will never abandon us or forsake us, even in the final hour.
And this is a promise for eternity.