View a short video from today’s Service of Remembrance
Reading: John 15:9-17
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
This is my command: Love each other.
All of us are experiencing something very different this year in the things that we have known as normal throughout our lives. There are things that are happening that takes much of what we decide to do with our lives out of our hands. I wonder if in some sort of strange way those of us who have lived through a time of war may be experiencing what that uncertainty would have felt like. One period of life seems normal, whatever that may mean to different people, then very quickly normal looks different. From playing everyday childhood games a young person during the 1940’s might have witnessed fighter planes flying overhead or warships amassing in a port. This year 75 years after the end of WWII young people have gone from playing everyday childhood games to witnessing things such as social distancing and face coverings. Both generations coming face to face with a new normal in a short space of time. Over the week leading up to this morning we have been sharing together each day in reflections of war poetry and the men who wrote these poems. Some of them did exactly what our reading from John’s gospel speaks of. ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ Others had close relatives who were lost to war. Yet others survived and returned home with the emotional scars to be carried with them for the rest of their lives. Jesus speaks of the love that lays down its life, this is not a path he has not taken himself. As with soldiers in every conflict they are called to leave the comfort and safety of what they know and love the dearest. They are called to leave home and journey to a place and a situation that may well be unknown to them. Jesus did likewise leaving his Father’s right hand. He entered into a world of darkness, suffering, sin and death. He came to this world and he bore the taunts and rejection. He came to this world where his motives were questioned and his authority challenged. He came to this world and offered his life that you and I and all God’s children might be restored to life and to peace with God! Jesus asks us to follow the example he has set. To mirror his great love. As we remember today those who did just that we are once more reminded what costly love! To lay one’s life out there for their friends and if needs be to yield it up! Jesus says, ‘I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you. We are here on Remembrance Sunday to remember those who have served in war, those who were left behind to worry and fret. We are here on Remembrance Sunday to remember those who are still serving in hostile places, those who are still being left behind to worry and fret. But so too we are here to remember that each of us is called daily to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not call us to go where he first has not gone. He does not call us to go without firstly assuring us that he will go with us. The call may be daunting, but he will give us strength, by the power of his life within us!‘ I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ’Therefore, abide in him! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the very power of God! Some have been called to die for their friends. The rest of us have been called to live for ours.
There is still a commitment. There is still a cost. There is also a promised strength.
May God help us to serve wholeheartedly as we are called to love and to serve.