Saturday, 9 November 2013

Sermon for Remembrance Sunday

Job 19:23-27 
Reflection part one: want it, need it?

“How I wish that someone would remember my words and record them in a book!”
Job, all those thousands of years ago made a plea that resonates through the ages.
We want to be known
We want to be remembered
We want to make a difference in the world – however small or insignificant that may be, we want to matter, to someone.
 Sometimes though, what we want, and what we need, are two totally different things.
And they are not at all exclusive to each other.
 Job, made that plea to be remembered, to leave something eternal, but that was not the end of it. For he also said, “I know there is someone in heaven who will come at last to my defence”. Job recognised the eternal truth; that even if here on earth nothing is right, nothing is going our way, nothing really matters, still, it matters to God.
 Today, as we gather to reflect and remember, the things, the times, the places and most of all, the people we remember who could also have made that same plea – remember my words, record them in a book... carve my words in stone... so they last forever.
We remember them – their names are carved in stone and on brass – their names live on in countless churches and war memorials all over our country, and in countless other countries, other memorials.
We remember them
Because if we forget what we need, rather than what we want – then their names will be lost
 We need to be loved
We need to feel safe
We need to be at peace
We need to remember the paradox: peace is costly for it often comes at the expense of others

"remember my words, record them in a book... carve my words in stone... so they last forever".(Job 19:23,24)

 Luke 20: 27-38  
Reflection Part Two: Living God: Living People

For those who study the bible and biblical times, today’s reading should provoke a wry smile.
In New Testament 101 at university one of the first things I learned was the difference between all the different sects that we come across in reading the gospels in particular, but the bible as a whole.
And I particularly remember my professor teaching us how to remember what the Sadducees believed: they were sad you see... for they did not believe in life after death. It was all for now, and nothing for eternity.
So, for these Sadducees to come and ask Jesus about husbands and wives in eternity is something of a nonsense. For them, when you’re dead, you’re dead, so the answer was fairly academic.
Jesus’ answer to them therefore is a correction of their belies: he states very clearly Moses’ teaching to prove that the dead do rise to life; that there is life after death. And his words are a strong reminder for us too.
Our God is “the God of the living, not the dead, for to (God) all are alive”
To God, all are alive.
All those whom we remember today
Countless numbers who gave their lives, willingly or not; all those saints who have gone before us – all live.

There is no grey area in what Jesus says
There is no vagueness
“Men and women who are worthy to rise from death and live in the age to come ... will be like angels and cannot die. They are the children of God, because they have risen from death. (Luke 20: 35,36)
What an awesome promise!!!
What a truly comforting thought
People who are worthy
Not all the good people
Not all the religious people
Not all the powerful, or clever, or rich, or influential... but simply, those who are worthy.
These are the ones who will be like angels who cannot die.
They have the eternal promise
We... yes WE too have the eternal promise; it is ours; it is for us to claim
As Job knew,
“there is someone in heaven
    who will come at last to my defence.
 Even after my skin is eaten by disease,
    while still in this body I will see God.
I will see him with my own eyes,
    and he will not be a stranger...” (Job 19:25-27)

God knows us by name
Just as through every age, God has known the faithful by name
And what’s more – when the time comes he will not be a stranger
Just think for a moment what that means
If someone is not a stranger it means they are known, we know each other
We know God
For God, is the God of the living
And all people
Through all ages
However they lived or died
Have that promise to hold onto: the children of God rise from death to life, and to God we are all alive – for all eternity.
As we remember those who loved God and country today, we have that eternal hope:
God knows and loves and lives and we and they have a place with him

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