Summary: A Sermon for Remembrance 2021
In the name of the Living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
The ebb and flow of life is slowly starting to find its rhythm again after almost 2 years of unrest and worry for so many, and while there are many who have found a new routine, we know that the Pandemic is still amongst us, so there is still much trepidation for so many.
For the very first time since the end of WW1, Last year we observed Remembrance in a much more reserved and quiet way, so being able to gather this year will bring for many relief as we are able to gather in remembrance and to pay our respects to, as the cenotaph says vey clearly, ‘The Glorious Dead’.
Since 2018 we have marked significant milestones, the end of WW1, in 19, the first act of remembrance and two minutes silence, and last year the events which led to the establishing of the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.
This along with the many other symbols we have do not glorify war, instead they remind us of the awful cost and the horrors that are wrought through the act of war.
But this year, we remember another centenary, this one is not to remember an end, but rather a new beginning, because it was in 1921 that the Royal British Legion was formed from The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers, The Comrades of The Great War and The Officers' Association.
This bold move was largely attributed to Field Marshal Earl Haig and Tom Lister, with Lord Haig serving as its first president until his death.
The first poppy appeal was held that year, and raised £106,000 after the poppies almost immediately sold out, a handsome sum of money in those days, and was used to help not only help veterans with employment and housing, but they also aided the 1 ¾ million servicemen who came back with temporary or permanent disabilities, plus the wives and children, widows, and orphans, as well as the parents who had lost sons in the war, on whom they were often financially dependent.
The RBL may have been established to initially help those who suffered as a result of serving their King and country in WW1, but today, they continue by providing help and support to the armed forces community, in countless ways.
Whilst the reason for the Legion being created was a tragic consequence of wars past and now present, the tireless work that they continue to do in helping the women and men of our armed forces and their families is a testament not only the care we have those affected by war, but it also demonstrates the deep respect that we have for all the members of our armed forces, who today continue to serve in some of the most hostile places in our world, and continue to provide us with the freedoms that we enjoy from tyranny and oppression in many forms.
In this period of national remembrance, we observe a period of reflection as we recall those who gave themselves for us. To remember why it was necessary to do what they did, a time to remember the horror of war and vow to ourselves - never again.
A time to take up the torch and to dedicate ourselves anew to living in such a way that we do not break faith with those who died to bring peace to the world, and a time to commit ourselves once again to the struggle against evil - the struggle against the very things that leads to war in the first place.
These questions, these emotions, these feelings, these hopes and prayers are all at the heart of the reading from our Gospel this morning.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this scripture is misplaced in Mark, and that it should actually be part of the book of Revelation, with talk of the future events, and the calamities that are going to be experienced.
But in actual fact Jesus is helping the disciples to think about how they will react to these experiences, rather than just giving them a message of future doom and gloom! And although the situation then was very different, his message is still as relevant to us today.
Jesus words to his disciples are stark, the temple, the place which had been a focus for all of God’s dealing with Israel for a thousand years will be destroyed, there will be wars and insurrections, earthquakes and famines, a rather bleak vision of the future
Sadly even though nearly 2000 years have passed we still see these atrocities, and read of how in some places in the world, Christians are still persecuted for their faith, and that extreme factions from other faith groups are ready to send people with bombs strapped to their bodies to cause terror and fear in any who would disagree with them.