Remembrance Service, Sunday 14 November 2021

Service starts at 10:45


Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

Psalm 91: 1-2

Hymn 715 Behold the mountain of the Lord

Opening Prayer

The LORD is our God;

his commands are for all the world.

He will keep his covenant for ever

his promises for a thousand generations.          

Psalm 105: 7-8

Heavenly Father

You are a holy God

you see where there is injustice and unfairness

where people are hurt or harmed by others

and you burn with anger against it.

But you are also a loving and caring God

full of mercy and compassion

constant and true in all your ways

ready to forgive and grant  a new start.

You are great and mighty

maker of heaven and earth

but you have called us to yourself

to be your children

to bring to you our worries and our fears

to find in you rest, comfort and healing

You are Lord of all the earth

none is beyond the reach of your care

none is above following your commands

But we confess that at times

we have added to the hurt and harm of your world

we have noticed the needs of others and passed by

we failed to notice

we squandered the love and mercy we received

we have gone back to the old ways after each new start

we have not followed faithfully in the way of Jesus

Forgive us

Restore us

Fill us again with your Spirit

that we may walk faithfully in your way.

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

Act of Remembrance

In a few moments

we will be invited to stand for our Act of Remembrance:

for some it is a time for personal memories

for some it is a time to remember other people’s stories

for all of us it is a time to remember all who sacrificed their lives, their health, their future, for us

for all of us it is a time to commit ourselves again to seeking to build peace and God’s Kingdom, that others do not have to make such a sacrifice again

Let us remember

the courage, the devotion to duty, the self-sacrifice

of the men and women in our armed forces

the toil, the endurance, the suffering

of those who were not in uniform

the support of those from afar

Let us remember

those who were wounded in the fight

those who perished in air raids at home

those who fell in battle

who are buried at sea

or in some corner of a foreign field

Let us remember

those who were our enemies

who also lost parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends

who also lost homes, hopes, dreams

Let us remember

those who came back

whose lives still bear the scars of war

who lost sight or limbs or reason

who lost faith in God and hope for humanity

Let us remember

those currently caught up in wars

the military personnel and the civilians

Let us remember

God’s will for his world

his continuing love and care for us

and his call to us to follow in the way of Christ

Last post

If you are able

will you please stand

and in silence let us remember

*           *           *

They shall not grow old

as we who 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

*           *           *

Let us pray together the Lord’s Prayer:

Hymn 527 Lord make us servants of your peace

Bible reading

Psalm 46


In August American forces withdrew from Afghanistan, and British and other Western troops left too. This is neither the time nor the place to consider the rights or wrongs of that policy, or how it was carried out, but it is an appropriate time to acknowledge and reflect on the thoughts and feelings expressed at that time by veterans who served in Afghanistan, and the families of soldiers killed there: ‘was it worth it?’ ‘did our contribution make any difference?’ ‘did they die in vain?’ ‘was it just a waste of time?’

They are probably questions that soldiers – and sailors – have asked privately for centuries. They are questions that many Great War troops (and probably their families) asked themselves – though it wasn’t something that most would want to be heard saying in public. During the Second World War my father was a Prisoner of War, though like most he never spoke about it. I have tried to find out a bit more about what it meant for him, reading books where the authors have spoken to other POWs, collecting their stories, memories, observations about life in the camps and on the forced marches back from the East (in my father’s case from Lithuania to Luneburg Heath) ahead of the advancing Red Army. For many of them, at several points, there were those big existential questions, ‘why?’ ‘to what purpose?’

The governments and civil or military officials who oversee campaigns have and will almost always justify their actions, along the way praising the troops for their contribution and valour. The wider public appreciates their work, but if we’re honest, most of the time, most of the public get on with life without  thinking about serving troops or former servicemen and women.

Remembrance is a time to think about them, what they were – and are – asked to do; to remember them as people, a vast number of individuals with their own personalities, feelings, relationships, experiences; to remember the impact that service had or has had upon them – the ones who lost their lives, who received live-changing physical or mental injuries (many now are identified as having contracted Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and no doubt many developed it in the past, but it was neither acknowledged nor regarded as socially valid). Many are or were left with questions, with feelings of guilt – because of things they did or didn’t do in the field of service, or in support of colleagues.

How do we respond to the questions asked and comments made by veterans or the families of troops who died in Afghanistan, who have seen the return of a Taliban-led government that, despite all promises, does not seem particularly different from the last one? How would we have responded to, say, the troops who went to Gallipoli, and eventually had to withdraw having failed in their objective, and lost many friends and colleagues in the process? Or in so many similar circumstances? Do we repeat the usual positive tone of official sources? Would it be inappropriate, unpatriotic to question official strategy, and appear to undermine what the troops were asked to do? Are they really looking for a rational explanation set out in cold, logical format? Or are they wanting others to stand with them, to empathise with them as they struggle in their own minds with questions for which there is no real answer.

There are many areas of life where things don’t end as we had planned, where people feel weary after tremendous effort that didn’t lead to the hoped-for result, and they end up asking questions about whether it was worth all the effort, whether it will have any lasting impact, and should they have bothered? It may seem a bit of a flippant response, but in the Nativity Play ‘Michael Mouse’ there is a line near the end where Michael reflects upon the moment when he squeezed into a hole in the rafters of the Stable and blocked out a draught falling on the new born baby. Michael says, ‘I gave him me for as long as he needed me.’ It’s a comment that reflects the Christian understanding of how we live our lives and serve Jesus – even if we have great plans and strategies to bring about long-lasting change, we are also called to make an immediate impact in the present, now, not just something that lasts for years and years. The legacy of our action may be long or short, but for that moment in the present, it’s what God wants us to do.

We can’t just trip out pious platitudes to people struggling to understand the value of their work, or whether there is any benefit arising from the loss of a loved one, or when the strategy they were carrying out seems to have completely unravelled. But maybe we can suggest to them that even though the legacy may not be long-lasting, for that moment, for that short period, someone’s life was better because of what they did.

Hymn 706 For the healing of the nations

Prayers for others

Gracious God

We bring before you in prayer

all in our broken world who need your healing and wholeness

who carry sadness, worry and pain

those close to us

those we do not know well

those we do not know at all

those who are ill, and those who worry about them

those waiting for, or receiving, treatment

those who are lonely

those grieving a friend or loved one

those with worries about home, friends or family

those with worries about work or income

those who do not have enough to eat

those who have nowhere to call home

those in our community, nation and world

 who carry the scars of war

 who lost hopes and dreams

 who lost faith because of what they saw or endured

 who care for such people

 who serve in the armed forces

 who live in situations of war and terrorist outrage

 who long to live in peace and safety

 who are working to build peace

We pray for the Queen, the government

 for the countries of the Commonwealth

 for the countries of NATO

 for all those in authority in every land

 for the United Nations and its agencies

 for all who work to build peace and justice in your world

We pray for your church

 here and throughout the world

 help us to follow Jesus faithfully in all we do and say

 that others may see a glimpse of your Kingdom in us

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

As we remember the sacrifice of others

as we bring these gifts of money

we dedicate them and ourselves to your service

to work to build peace and justice in your world

that it may be a safer place for the generations still to come

Hymn 161 O God our help in ages past

Blessing (3-fold Amen)

God the Father sends you out

 to be his witnesses wherever you go

 to work to bring healing and wholeness in all you do

and the blessing of God Almighty

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

National Anthem v1

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