Summary: Sermon for Remembrance Sunday 2001
I am not old enough to remember the Second World War – I was born ten years after it ended.
But my father and my Uncle Don were involved in the war.
Story: Dad served in the North African campaign and was at Alamein. He also served in the Italian campaign. At Monte Casino, the blast of the guns badly damaged his hearing.
Towards the end of his life, Dad told us how the ravages of war had weakened his heart – which eventually gave out 13 years ago.
Dad never talked much about the war. Though I do remember him once telling me how he was walking through a field in single column one day. And an enemy shell fell on the Canadian soldier behind him The man simply ceased to exist – some mother’s son for whom the family would grieve.
General Sherman, the American Civil War General once said: “War is hell”. How true it is.
Story: Uncle Don lost his hair when as a young lad of about 20. He was twice torpedoed on a ship that in the transatlantic convoys.
The loss of his hair scarred him for life – leaving him with a very low self worth.
Yet they were the lucky ones who survived.
Many of their friends – and your friends - did not.
1. The Sacrifice
Today we recall the millions of servicemen gave their lives in both World Wars so that we might enjoy peace today.
The ability to remember is a wonderful gift that God has given to us.
Some of our memories are happy and we can recall wonderful experiences.
But some of our memories are sad and we may weep as we remember them.
Even though the Second World War ended 56 years ago and the First World War 83 years ago - it is important that we remember that many still bear the scars of war today.
And it is good for us to remember them, support them and pray for them.
Today is a day when we say “Thank you” to all those who made the sacrifice that we can stand here today in peace and freedom.
We have read out the names of those who died this morning. But we must not forget those who are still suffering as a result of these wars.
And can I commend to you the work of the British Legion, who still work to alleviate suffering among ex servicemen. Please do give generously to them
3. The love of Christ
As we stand in the parish church in Gunthorpe, these thoughts of sacrifice should bring us back to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for us all on the battlefield of Calvary.
As our reading this morning reminds us:
Greater love has no one than this, that one lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13)
Jesus gave his life not only for his friends but also for his enemies.
As God, Jesus had no need to experience human suffering but he did for all our sakes.
Man’s evil – what we call sin – has separated us from God. Jesus died to reconcile us to God, by dying in our place – the Perfect One for imperfect creatures .
Jesus reconciled man to God, through dying on the Cross. This reconciliation is a gift that we can receive simply by asking Christ to come into our lives. As the apostle John put it:
“But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12
The former Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop J L Wilson, who was a Japanese prisoner of war in the Second War recommended three thoughts for us all to carry in our hearts on Remembrance Sunday.
·That we should be thankful for the sacrifice of others
·That we should be dedicated to work for peace and justice in the world
·That we should be sorry for human sin and evil.