Documents and Photos‎ > ‎Archive‎ > ‎Vicar's Sermons‎ > ‎

Remembrance Sunday 12 Nov 2017

The Vicar’s Sermon on Remembrance Sunday 
12th November 2017

The outward and visible signs of this week-end speak two words to all those who are prepared to listen. The first word is that of loss. From the Cenotaph at Whitehall in the heart of London to the little list of names in the smallest of Country Churches in a remote corner of our countryside, we are confronted this week-end by the terrible loss of life during the two world wars and other conflicts of the 20th and 21st Centuries. We rightly recall the sacrifice of those who made it possible for us to live in freedom today. This is the time of the year for re-calling. 

Some of us gathered at the War Memorial on the edge of the Church garden yesterday morning. It was Armistice Day. We stood in silence at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – grateful that the First World War came to an end on 11th November 1918 and appalled at the terrible loss of life between 1914 and 1918. Those dates are on our War Memorial together with the dates of 1939 – 1945, which speak of the equally appalling loss of life during the Second World War; and there have been the other wars in Korea and in the Falklands – sadly far too many to mention by name in a sermon.

Armistice Day this year is at once followed by Remembrance Sunday; and on the eve of Remembrance Sunday there was the Annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall last evening.  A poppy descends from the ceiling of the hall every year representing one person who did not return home.  The poppies came down as usual in their thousands. Awareness of loss is there in all these events.  A board in the north aisle of the Nave of this Church has the names of the men from our Parish, who gave their lives all those years ago during the First World War.  The loss was – and remains tragic.  In no way do we glorify war in this second week of November every year.  War is a hideous way in which to settle differences of opinion.  War always involves loss of life.  Violence always leads to more violence.

A girl, who served in the Women’s Royal Naval Reserve during the Second World War, has recently died at the age of 94. She had been a Wren and she wrote a book which she called “Morse Code Wrens.” She writes – “I felt no animosity whatever to German sailors with their blue eyes and caps with ribbons hanging down their backs.” However she changed her mind when the first report of the Nazi regimes systematic extermination of the Jews was made known.  

The headline in a newspaper of 1942 reads: - Germans murder 700,000 Jews in Poland – many in travelling gas chambers. That young Wren wrote in her book “It had to be stopped – no matter what.”  If the first word, which the War Memorials speak is “loss”, the second word is “commitment.”  The commitment of those who served in the cause of freedom was so great that it led to the loss of life to which I have already drawn your attention. Their commitment calls for a commitment to “the good life” from each one of us.

The drift into materialism – secularism – which has been going on since the beginning of the nineteen sixties – needs to be stopped “no matter what.” Secularism has been likened to an old fashioned London fog. It is all around us. You cannot escape from it. It cannot be avoided. It creeps in – infiltrating.

On hearing the Christian message of light and love and life, an old man in the 7th century said:
“The life of man – is like a sparrow’s flight through a bright hall where one sits at meat in winter with the fire alight on the hearth and the icy rain storm without. The sparrow flies in at one door and stays for a moment in the light and the heat, and then flying out of the other vanishes into the wintry darkness. So stays for a moment the life of man, but what it is before and what after, we know not. If this new teaching can tell us, let us follow it!”

The new teaching was and is Christ and his way of selfless service. Let us make a new commitment to our discipleship of Him who is the way, the truth and the life.