Remembrance Sunday 2016
13 November 2016
Most of us here in Britain, thankfully, find the Christian journey, if a little complex, not too demanding. I use the word journey because this is what we are on. We the church. Individually and communally. It is good to have someone to pray for us, look out for us, seek out with us what is best and most fruitful for us in our ministries both as church and as individuals… But we are also, first and foremost, called to follow Christ ourselves as individuals, and to model Christ to others whether anyone is alongside or not. After all, the most important ‘someone’ is still alongside - and will never leave each one of us: Jesus.
Bishop Jack Nicholls once pointed out that through choosing to follow Jesus, we enter at that place where we find Christ still: that place between the pain of the world and God’s grace. It is a place Christians are meant to be. Called to be. A place where no-one else can be or has been called to be in quite the same way. I wonder if we feel called in that way today? I wonder, if we don’t, how we might hear that call and, more importantly, respond to it…?
At this time of Remembrance, we think of all those over past years who chose to put themselves in harm’s way on behalf of others. On behalf of you and me. We can surely say that they put themselves in that place between pain and grace, can’t we?
We can easily see what it means when we talk about the pain. but what is the grace spoken of in their sacrifice? This is the grace of providing us with freedom. Providing us with a future. A future they probably never imagined, never dreamed of and one which as we know many millions never got to enjoy. That is quite phenomenal grace. And it was very hard won. Hard won by them and by their families, their friends, their loved ones. This grace is a gift. And we would do well to remember that. To remember how costly it was to win it. And to use that gift wisely. To hand on that grace, that gift, to others to other generations. For, if nothing else, grace is clearly something that is not there to be held on to selfishly. Grace, above all is to be shared and passed on.
If we choose to follow Christ, therefore, we, too, are called to be at the place where pain and grace meet. And we are called to ensure that this gift of grace doesn’t end with us. It is given in order that it might be passed on. Those who died for us, who we remember with honour and gratitude, gave all of themselves. What are we going to give? In our todays? What will we give to those tomorrows? Those futures yet unimagined, un-dreamed of? We may never be called to put ourselves in harm’s way - in the way those we remember with honour and affection on this solemn day - but we are, nonetheless, asked, even required, to put ourselves out in the service of others in any way we can. And to take the time and the trouble to discern where that service may lie.
May God bless you as you work your purposes out with Christ, and on Christ’s behalf… wherever your journey takes you. Amen