Call to Worship
We are met this day
to glorify God whose power sustains the world;
to remember with thanksgiving
those who lived and died
in the service of our country;
and to ask for God’s help and blessing,
that we may be worthy of their sacrifice
each day of our life.
God is our refuge and our stronghold,
a timely help in trouble.
(Psalm 46: 1)
Let us worship God:
HYMN 161 O God our help in ages past
you are the shepherd of our souls,
the giver of life everlasting.
On this day
when we commemorate and commend to you
those who lived and died
in the service of others,
we are glad to remember
that your purposes for us are good,
that you gave Jesus Christ
for the life of the world,
and that you lead us by his Holy Spirit
into the paths of righteousness and peace.
Merciful and faithful God,
your purpose is to fold both earth and heaven
in a single peace.
With sorrow we confess
that in our hearts we keep alive
the passions and pride
that lead to hatred and to war.
We are not worthy of your love,
nor of the sacrifice made by others on our behalf.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
pardon and deliver us from all our sins,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God of unbounded grace,
you declared your reconciling love and power
in the death and resurrection
of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Teach us, who live only in your forgiveness,
to forgive one another.
Heal our divisions,
cast out our fears,
renew our faith in your unchanging purpose
of goodwill and peace on earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.
Act of Remembrance:
Let us remember the kindness of God,
and his favour to us in our time of need.
Let us remember the courage,
devotion to duty,
and the self-sacrifice
of the men and women in our armed forces;
the toil, endurance, and suffering
of those who were not in uniform;
the support of those who sent us help from afar,
or came and stood by our side.
Let us remember those
who were wounded in the fight;
those who perished in air-raids at home;
those who fell in battle,
and are buried at sea
or in some corner of a foreign field;
and especially those
whom we have known and loved,
whose place is for ever in our hearts.
Let us remember those who were our enemies,
whose homes and hearts are as bereft as ours,
whose dead lie also
in a living tomb of everlasting remembrance.
Let us remember those who came back;
those whose lives still bear the scars of war;
those who lost sight or limbs or reason;
those who lost faith in God
and hope for humanity.
Let us remember the continuing grace of God,
whose love holds all souls in life,
and to whom none is dead
but all are alive for ever.
‘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.’
We will remember them.
Two minutes silence is observed
In memory of those who died,
may we be better men and women;
and in gratitude to God,
may we live as those who are not their own
but who are bought with a price.
Matthew 25: 31-46 – Judgement of the nations
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
Luke 10: 25-37 – The Good Samaritan
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
This is the word of the Lord; thanks be to God.
HYMN 706 For the healing of the nations
Today I would like to share with you a story concerning one of my heroes. That there is a point to the story is what matters, not whether you think it history or myth. Our hero is Giovanni di Pietro di Bernadone. He was born in the late twelfth century and lived only until he was around forty-four years of age. He was born into a wealthy and privileged background is what is the Perugia region of Italy. Over time, he lived the high life and saw military service, that latter being a misguided attempt to shake off his disillusionment with life through chivalric acts. That’s simply a brief biography of the first twenty-odd years of his life. It’s what he did next that would make him famous, and this story comes from much nearer the end of his life.
The town of Gubbio was under siege, not from hostile armies but from a wolf. The wolf would raid the farms and the streets and carry off livestock. Despite many attempts the populace could neither trap nor kill the wolf; neither could they find his lair. The town was frightened and despairing. They knew not what to do. Into this, one day, wanders our hero. He offers to solve the problem, and strides off into the local woods where, it was believed, the wolf had his lair. The wolf lay asleep in a cave in the woods but was awakened by the clumsy steps of Giovanni. Sensing the potential of a free meal he rose up and charged towards the noise. At this point Giovanni sees the wolf charging towards him. Suddenly the animal stops in his tracks. Did he smell danger? Was he confused? Had he been overcome by the odour of our unwashed hero? Whatever it was he stopped. Our hero raised his hand to signal to the wolf to remain where he was. Then, turning to the animal, he asked, why do you so terrorise the people of the town? Why do you steal their flocks and herds, making them fear for their own existence? The wolf, bemused by this encounter, replied that he was so hungry as there was no suitable food within the forest and so had to raid the town in order to survive. The hero then proposed an offer to the wolf, a solution both to his problems and those of the townsfolk. He then returned to the town with the wolf accompanying him. There, the terrified citizens wondered what was going on. Giovanni then explained to the people the predicament of the wolf and offered them a solution. If they were to feed and care for the wolf in turn he would patrol the land around the town, keeping it free from other wolves and pests. Also, he would act as a guard and early warning for them should enemies approach. The town thought this to be a good arrangement. The sign of the peace accord was that the wolf offered a paw that the leader of the people then shook. The deal was to be a long-lasting one, ending only when the wolf died. On that day, the people grieved as they had lost not an enemy but a neighbour and a friend.
So what does the tale tell us? It reminds us that we must rise above our base instincts of fight or flight and seek a middle way. It reminds us that those we perceive as enemies are not always that much different from us, having needs and fears that need addressed for survival. Finally, it reminds us that sometimes there is another way, a way of peace. That, as Jesus tells us in the Gospels, is the way of blessing.
And our hero? Perhaps you didn’t recognise his name. He is more often known by a nickname he received due to his mother being French. This has come down to us today as Francis, St. Francis of Assisi. Amen.
HYMN 527 Lord, make us servants of your peace.
(From St. Cuthbert’s, Wells, and Wookey Hole)
God of power and love
bless our country an
God of power and love.
bless our country and commonwealth.
Give wisdom and strength to the Queen,
govern those who make the laws,
guide those who direct our common life,
and grant that together we may fulfil our service
for the welfare of the whole people
and for your praise and glory.Bless all members of the armed forces.
Defend them in danger.
Give them courage to meet
all occasions with discipline and loyalty.
So may they serve
the cause of justice and peace,
to the honour of your name.Bless our young people.
May they never see the flames of war,
or know the depths of cruelty
to which men and women can sink.
Grant that in their generation
they may be faithful soldiers
and servants of Jesus Christ.Bless our friends
and those who were our enemies,
who suffered or are still suffering from war.
Grant that your love
may reach out to the wounded,
the disabled, the mentally distressed,
and those whose faith has been shaken
by what they have seen and endured.
Comfort all who mourn the death of loved ones,
and all who this day
miss the comradeship of friends.Bless those who are homeless,
those who are refugees,
those who are hungry,
those who have lost their livelihood or security.
Help us to pledge ourselves
to comfort, support, and encourage others,
that all may live in a world
where evil and poverty are done away
and where human life
reflects the radiance of your kingdom.Bless those in authority in every land,
and give them wisdom to know
and courage to do what is right.
Encourage those who work for peace,
who strive to improve international relations,
who seek new ways of reconciling
people of different race, colour, and creed.
Bless your Church throughout the world.
By your Holy Spirit,
draw the scattered flock of Christ
into a visible unity,
and make your Church
a sign of hope to our divided world.
Grant that we who bear your Son’s name
may be instruments of your peace,
bringing peace to our homes,
our nation, and our world.And now, rejoicing in the communion of saints,
we remember those whom you have gathered
from the storm of war
into the peace of your presence,
and give you thanks
for those whom we have known,
whose memory we treasure.
May the example of their devotion inspire us,
that we may be taught to live
by those who learned to die.
And at the last, grant that we,
being faithful till death,
may receive with them
the crown of life that never fades;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
HYMN 704 I vow to thee my country
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 you all.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.Prayers and Act of Remembrance taken from the Church of Scotland Book of Common Order (1994)