Sermon preached by Revd Karen Charman on Remembrance Sunday, 8th November 2020 via Zoom
At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent. And today, Remembrance Sunday, we remember all those who died in the First and Second World Wars – and in numerous conflicts since.
Remembrance Day is a day which brings the church and the world together – which unites us, as we gather to remember all those who died in war; and as we pledge ourselves anew to serve God and all humankind in the cause of peace.
Normally, we would gather at our village war memorials.
This year, out of respect for our neighbours, and our pledge to serve God and humankind “in the cause of peace, and for the relief of want and suffering,” we gather, instead, on-line. We gather on-line to preserve lives, and to protect our neighbours and ourselves from the corona-virus.
Remembrance is a recurring theme in The Bible and in Christianity – but is also important to those of other faiths; and to those with no faith, too.
I’d like us to reflect today on the theme of Remembrance in The Bible.
Several times in the Hebrew Scriptures – our Old Testament – the people of Israel are commanded, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.” They are commanded:
- to remember the Sabbath Day, and to keep it holy.
- to remember the Lord their God
- to remember his wonderful deeds
And there are numerous reminders in the Old Testament that God remembers his people.
For example, these beautiful words from Isaiah 49:
““Can a woman forget her nursing-child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;”
We worship a God who remembers his people, and calls us by name – a God who does not forget us.
And I think it’s really important for us to remember that good news – even though we can’t gather in our churches at the moment, to worship God … even though we can’t gather at our village war memorials to remember those who died in war … we worship a God who remembers his people – a God who does not forget.
We are created in God’s image and called to be holy – to grow into his likeness – and therefore we are called to remember too:
- to remember God and his commandments
- to remember the poor and afflicted
- to remember the widow and the orphan
- to remember the “alien in the land” – the refugee, or asylum seeker
- to remember all who sacrifice or lay down their lives for others – this year, perhaps, nurses, medics and other key-workers, as well as the soldiers who died in war
- and to remember that God has redeemed us from the slavery of sin and death, and has brought us out of darkness into his light
But, as Christians, we remember particularly that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.
On the night before he died, Jesus took bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you: do this in remembrance of me.”
In the Eucharist, we take the bread and wine, break the bread, and – in normal times – share the one bread and one cup, which become for us the body and blood of Christ. We do this to remember Jesus, and his death and resurrection.
When we share in the Eucharist – or Holy Communion – and I believe that this applies to our on-line Zoom Eucharists, too, when we make a spiritual communion – we re-member … we re-assemble, or put back together … the broken body of Christ. Every Eucharist is a healing service, putting together that which is broken, uniting us in the body of Christ, making the broken whole again, and then sending us out to live and work for the healing of the nations, and the coming of the kingdom.
When we gather on Remembrance Sunday – to remember those who died in war – we perhaps cannot re-member them; we can’t put back together the millions of lives which have been destroyed by war.
We can’t – but God can.
Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead. Because he rose from the dead, on Easter Day, we believe in the resurrection of the dead. We know that death is not the end.
As Jesus was raised from death to new life, so all who believe in him shall be raised.
We believe in a God who does not forget his children.
The names of those who died in war are inscribed on our village war memorials – and inscribed on the palm of God’s hand.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
We willremember them.
God will re-member them.
And he will raise them up on the last day.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
 Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 15:15; Deuteronomy 24:18;
 Exodus 20:8
 Deuteronomy 8:18
 1 Chronicles 16:12
 Isaiah 49:15