Sermon at St Mary’s Church Hadlow –
Remembrance Service– 14th November 2021
Reading: John 15: 9 – 17 Supreme love
Text: Timothy 1 7 “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
- Introductory questions.
Q1. to Beavers, “Today is Remembrance Sunday. What are we remembering?”
A: Those who died in the fighting of two world wars. Also, other wars
Q2. to Cub Scouts. Can you tell me any other wars in the 20th century and this Century, in which British forces fought?
- The Boer War 1901
- The Korean War 1950-53
- The Falklands War 1980
- The Kuwait War 1990
- The Iraq War
Q3. to Scouts What starts a war?
A3. One country invading another country, e. g. Germany invading Poland in 1939; North Korea invading South Korea; Russia about to invade Belarus
- Introduction. We have just had a reading from St John’s Gospel, often read on Remembrance Sunday. The reading is about true love. It contains these words of Jesus, familiar to many people, “Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no-one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This morning I want to link those familiar words with some words of the Apostle Paul to his Assistant, Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1 v 7).
- Fear. Wars are times of uncertainty. People are getting shot and wounded or maybe, killed. Homes are getting bombed. Food is short and rationed. Food rationing in this country went on after the Second World War for a longer period that the War itself, for 9 years until 1954. Uncertainty breeds fear. We are going now through a time of uncertainty with the Covid pandemic, this can breed fear. God though has shown us a better way. As the Apostle Paul says to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Paul could write that despite having gone through very difficult events, like being stoned almost to death, being shipwrecked more than once, being imprisoned. It is natural to be apprehensive in the face of difficulty and challenging circumstances but there is a way to avoid that becoming an obsessive fear, which can be destructive to our whole approach to life, and even lead to mental illness.
- Power and love. Jesus spoke about loving one another when he knew that shortly he would die but he also believed that he would rise from the dead. As the Apostle John writes, “Perfect love casts out fear”. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love. Power without love, without regard for another’s wellbeing is what leads to bullying, to aggression, to war. Misuse of power in the family can lead to breakdown of family relations. Misuse of power in industry, commerce or any work place in the long run can be counter-productive. But power to overcome fear, trusting in our risen Lord Jesus Christ, giving us the true hope of resurrection can be liberating and energising.
- Sound mind. Paul’s third quality is a little more difficult to understand. I read it as ‘a sound mind’. It can equally well be translated as ‘self-discipline’. If one thinks about it, these two are not far removed from one another. There are natural urges in us which if we are wise, we will restrain. To seek revenge on someone who has harmed one, can so easily lead to a vicious cycle of continuing revenge. Jesus told us to love our enemies. In its basic meaning this applies on a one-to-one basis of personal relationships. But it also applies on the wider basis, of reconciliation with those who were our enemies in war. Thank God that although British servicemen and women have been in action in many parts of the world since the end of the Second World War, we have enjoyed peace in this country, and in most of Europe.
- Conclusion. In conclusion let us on this Remembrance Sunday think of all from many countries around the world, both our allies and our enemies and also those caught up in other conflicts, who have died. Let us particularly remember those from and associated with this village who went into action, often facing the very real possibility of death, to counter forces of aggression. Let us build on the freedom they won for us, knowing that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”