Read-along Service for Sunday, November 6, 2022 – Remembrance Sunday

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
November 6, 2022 Remembrance Sunday

Prelude
Words of welcome, announcements         

Lighting the Christ Candle
We light this candle as a symbol of the light of Christ, which shines in each one of us, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  May the spirit of resurrection fill our lives with hope.

Call To worship
We gather on the first day of a new week to give thanks to God who is the source of all life. May the light of God’s love shine on us today. For we also gather to remember the suffering and loss that wars bring on us all. We defiantly proclaim that the darkness and doubt of the world which threatens to consume us is not the ultimate power over us. In the face of our fear and hopelessness we celebrate God’s presence among us. For God offers the way of peace. We dare to place our trust in God’s abundant love. Let us freely and without fear open our hearts to God’s healing words of hope. AMEN.

Prayer of Approach
Faithful God, we come before you with many issues on our hearts. We get frustrated and angry at the way things are going in the world. We want this world to be a better place for all your children. Help us stop our selfishness and our quick anger. Remind us that you will work with us and through us for peace and hope. Release us from the traps of despair so we might see the big picture of your awesome love that spans all of time. Forgive us for our pettiness and our stubbornness which tears our world apart. Bring us back to you, O Lord. Help us shout your praises and live lives of joyful service. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Hymn   How Firm a Foundation                                 VU 660

  1. How firm a foundation, you servants of God,
    is laid for your faith in God’s excellent word!
    What more can be said than to you has been said,
    to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
  1. “Fear not, I am with you; O be not dismayed!
    For I am your God and will still give you aid;
    I’ll strengthen and help you, and cause you to stand,
    upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.
  1. “When through the deep waters I call you to go,
    the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
    for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
    and sanctify to you your deepest distress.
  1. “When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
    my grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply:
    the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
    your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.
  1. “The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
    I will not – I will not desert to his foes;
    that soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
    I’ll never – no, never – no, never forsake!”

Scripture Reader: Peter Raaphorst
Job 19:23-27a     Luke 20:27-38

 

Act of Remembrance
          Remembering the Nursing Sisters – Peter Raaphorst & Kurt Johnson
Lament – “No More to Return” – Melissa Friske
Reading “For the Fallen”
Choir:  “In Flanders Fields”
The Last Post
Moment of Silence
Reveille
O Canada

Homily “All We are Saying is Give Peace a Chance”
Musical Response

The offering
We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA during these challenging times. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us.  You can get more information about making a donation by contacting the church office or by visiting our website. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.

Offering Song   Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow                VU 541

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God, all creatures high and low;
give thanks to God in love made known;
Creator, Word, and Spirit, One.

Offering Prayer

Hymn  O God, Our Help in Ages Past                                           VU 806

  1. O God, our help in ages past,
    our hope for years to come,
    our shelter from the stormy blast,
    and our eternal home:
  1. under the shadow of thy throne
    Thy saints have dwelt secure,
    sufficient is thine arm alone,
    and our defence is sure.
  1. Before the hills in order stood,
    or earth received its frame,
    from everlasting thou art God,
    to endless years the same.
  1. A thousand ages in thy sight
    are like an evening gone,
    short as the watch that ends the night
    before the rising sun.
  1. Time like an ever-rolling stream
    soon bears us all away;
    we fly forgotten, as a dream
    dies at the opening day.
  1. O God, our help in ages past,
    our hope for years to come,
    be thou our guard while troubles last,
    and our eternal home.

Pastoral Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn         Abide with Me                                                               VU 436

  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    when other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
    help of the helpless, O abide with me.
  1. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    change and decay in all around I see;
    O Christ, who changes not, abide with me.
  1. I need your presence every passing hour;
    what but your grace can foil the tempter’s power?
    Who like yourself my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
  1. I have no fear with you at hand to bless;
    ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    where is death’s sting? Where, grave, your victory?
    I triumph still, if you abide with me.
  1. Hold now your cross before my closing eyes;
    shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
    heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
    in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Benediction

Go forth into the world in peace.              Be of good courage.
Hold fast that which is good.                    Render to no one evil for evil.
Strengthen the fainthearted.                     Support the weak.
Help the afflicted.                                       Show love to everyone.
Be followers of the way of Jesus.
Sharing in the communal power of the Holy Spirit;
and the blessing of almighty God.
Now may God be with you and remain with you always.
Go now in peace.  Amen.

Choral Amen                         Amen, Amen, Amen.                       VU 967

Postlude   Amazing Grace – Melissa Friske, bagpipes

“All We are Saying is Give Peace a Chance.” Text Luke 20:27-38
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Nov 6 2022.

My sermon title this morning is of course a line from one of John Lennon’s famous songs. The former member of The Beatles was well known for his promotion of world peace before he was murdered in 1980. His songs “Give peace a chance” and “Imagine” are still sung at peace rallies around the world. There is no denying Lennon was an idealist. He believed that if enough people change their minds, then change will come. Lennon once said “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there would be peace.” If only it was that simple. A changed mind needs to lead to a changed life before peace can happen.

As idealistic as John Lennon’s words sound, our approach as Christians to changing the world is not that different. We think that if we could just get more people to believe in Jesus Christ, then the world will be different.  Religious conflicts in places like Northern Ireland shows it takes much more than just changing hearts to change our world.

Because our world has always been evolving into ever greater complexity, it is becoming ever more difficult to solve the world’s problems. One obvious way to address the conflicts in the world is through the use of political power.  As our communities become more diverse, we often turn to the law to provide the social cohesion that our common beliefs once provided. As a result, everything has become political today. How we understand marriage, family, sexual identity, education and health care have all become political issues.

The problem is that there is a huge gap between what politicians think they can achieve, and what a government knows it can actually do. While governments can legislate activity, it can never order people to change their hearts or minds. The current protests in Iran shows that even a government founded on religious principles does not have absolute power.  When a government creates new laws, those decisions can have unexpected consequences, which can cause even worse problems than the one they were trying to solve. The truth is, it takes much more than just politics to change our world.

When we look at the current war in Ukraine we can see how it is the result of complex historical, geographical, cultural, economic and political circumstances. It is often portrayed as being a conflict driven by the ambitions of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. But even if the Russian President were to be replaced tomorrow, that will not resolve this conflict that has been going on for a thousand years. Given this long and complex history, should we be surprised that it would take anything less than the complete engagement of all parts of society in order to create peace? Peace is a way of living that seeks to build trust between people so all can live together in harmony.

To build peace means we have to bring all parts of our lives into harmony with each other. And this is where religion can play a helpful role. When Jesus is asked to explain what he means by the resurrection, he says we “are all alive to God.” This means God is able to use all of our lives to create good. God can redeem what is past so it can be of some use to this world. God can use all that is happening in this present moment to change the course of history. And God can offer us in the future new choices and possibilities which can lead to creative transformation.

This is why the past is important to us. The philosopher Edmund Burke once said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” For this reason we pause on Remembrance Day to remember the human cost of war, and the lives that are touched by all wars.  By remembering we can find the common ground that leads to reconciliation and healing for what has been done in the past.

In the same way, the present moment is also important to us. The Methodist preacher John Wesley once said “My part is to improve the present moment.”  For this reason we pause on this day to care for those who suffer as a consequence of war, and to offer them some healing and hope. By caring for others, we help to rebuild the trust that is sadly lacking in our world today.

The future is also part of God’s redemptive plan. The preacher Martin Luther King once said “The arc of history is long and it bends towards justice.” For this reason we dare to dream of a world filled with justice and peace, where one day our children will study war no more.  All these hopes and dreams are alive to God. In God all things are possible.

So if winning hearts and minds alone is not enough, should we just give up hope and turn our back on the world? No. If politics alone cannot change the world, should we just stop voting? Again the answer to this question is a resounding ‘No’. We need all these things.

If we want peace, if we want to change the world, we will need to bring our Christian faith to the table. We will need politicians and bureaucrats at the table. We will need business leaders and bankers at the table. We will need art, we will need literature and we will need John Lennon’s music at the table. We will need the idealists and the pragmatists. We will need all the faith groups and indigenous peoples to be present as well. We will need the cultural elites and the people’s movements at the table. We will need corporate executives as well as the workers and the environmentalists. We will need the marginalized and the silenced victims of violence at the table. The change will not come when we tell the others at the table what they should be doing. The change will only come when we all learn how to work together for the common good of all.

When you look at the state of the world today, it is easy to get discouraged. Dreams of peace seem far from coming true. But even in difficult times such as this, we can find hope. Perhaps what this world needs is a Samantha Smith moment to change what is possible.

Samantha Smith’s name was everywhere back in 1982. Back in 1982, Yuri Andropov became the new leader of the Soviet Union. It was the height of the cold war. Andropov began his rule by increasing the powers of the KGB and by cracking down on dissidents. The Soviet war in Afghanistan was grinding in to its third year.  The rhetoric between Andropov and Ronald Reagan became quite heated.  In the midst of these escalating tensions, a ten year old girl from Manchester Maine wrote a letter to Andropov. Samantha Smith wrote the Soviet leader because she was afraid of a nuclear war breaking out. Her letter was published by the official Soviet newspaper Pravda. Andropov replied to her letter, and invited Samantha Smith to visit him.  In the summer of 1983 Smith and her family visited Russia. The media came along, giving the world an unprecedented glimpse of life under the Soviet regime. Samantha Smith became a goodwill ambassador for peace, speaking in Japan, and across the United States. She wrote a book about her experiences and she appeared on many television programs.

Samantha Smith died in a plane crash two years later at the all too young age of 13. Her death was front page news. Both the American and Soviet leaders sent messages of condolences to be read at her funeral. There are monuments to her memory in Russia and in the USA. There are buildings named after her in both countries. Works of art and pieces of music have been dedicated to her memory.  Samantha Smith’s actions did not end the Cold War, but her actions did catch the public imagination, and that did change what is possible for us all.

In God, all things are possible. So let us remember, and let us dream.

Together we can ‘give peace a chance’. Amen.

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