Psalm 16, Daniel 12:1-3, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13:1-8
Today as you know is Remembrance Sunday when we reflect on all those who were lost in two World Wars, and in many other conflicts since. There are today no living people who can tell firsthand the horrors of the First World War and indeed fewer and fewer who can clearly remember the Second World War, so it is only right and proper that we take time to think of all those who gave their lives in the cause of our freedom here today.
It is perhaps sad to think that we seem to have learnt so little as conflicts in so many parts of God’s world still continue. There would appear to be no end to ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ and that all too often, carried out in the name of religion.
All of today’s readings are set against the background of a disintegrating world, with hope of a better world or time to come. We hear in our passage from Daniel: “There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.”
Then in the letter to the Hebrews: “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Then Jesus himself in our Gospel reading from Mark: “When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famine. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”
How many must have hoped and believed that after two World Wars we might have reached that moment when a new order, a new time of peace and a realisation that the futility of war and aggression had been made crystal clear.
Yet no, for all our good intensions, all our fine hymns, prayers and promises we have never quite been able to tread the path that Christ set out for us. “No one shows greater love than when he lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Christ lay down His life not for one but for all humanity that we might be freed from sin to love our God and to love one another. We have so sadly gone wrong again and again.
Yet we are blessed with both a loving and forgiving God and it will never be too late to return to the path that our Lord trod. Perhaps even now the world and its leaders, and the young and their voices can put us on the path to a better, cleaner, safer and more loving and caring world than the one we now inhabit; and if each of us here today do our own small part to bring about that change then just perhaps there might be a new world order a New Jerusalem. Then those millions of sacrifices in two World Wars, and many other conflicts since, may not have been in vain, and we will continue to remember their sacrifices with pride and gratitude.
Finally, a prayer scratched on the wall of a prison cell in Cologne during the Second World War:
I believe in the sun, even when it does not shine.
I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.