The Sunday Eucharist readings, prayers and reflections are available below.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 8 NOVEMBER
Today's sermon is available as an audio recording here. Press play to start.
"Rest eternal grant them,
After weary fight;
Shed on them the radiance
Of thy heavenly light,
Lead them onward, upward,
To the holy place,
Where thy saints made perfect
Gaze upon thy face."
Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all, govern the hearts and minds of thse in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
II Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13
We pray for the peace of the Church and of the world.
Fill the Church with mutual love among her members for a greater witness to all.
Give peace among the nations. Grant to all in authority the will to work for peace.
We pray for Elizabeth our Queen.
Have mercy on the victims of war and violence, the wounded and the bereaved, the refugees and dispossessed.
We pray for the sick of this parish for Mary Maxwell and Paul Evans.
We pray for all who have died in War. Grant them peace at last and raise them to new life.
The Glorious Dead
On 11th November 1920, King George V unveiled the Cenotaph in Whitehall, the national monument to commemorate the dead of World War I. It remains the centre, the heart of this day of National Remembrance, even amidst the dislocated world we presently endure. There is only one epitaph inscribed on the Cenotaph, stark in its, almost shocking, brevity, The Glorious Dead.
Those three words may seem, from the distance of one hundred years, not merely a curious sentiment but an outrageous one. Given what we know of history, there does not seem much that is glorious about being killed in war. Not for soldiers, sailors or airmen. Not for for those gassed in the trenches of Flanders or in the concentration camps of the next World War. No-one who walked through the gates of Auschwitz, Belsen, and the rest; no-one who witnessed the aftermath of the Somme, Passchendaele, of the Warsaw Ghetto, of the corpses dug out of bombed cities would have found the word ‘glorious’ spring unbidden to the lips. Human failure is not glorious. Yet, amidst our desolation, amidst the dereliction and the damage and the destruction there can be a “glory that surrounds our tears.”
Twenty-one centuries ago, in a far-off land, there was a man who was cruelly put to death on a cross. He was innocent. He was betrayed. He suffered torment and humiliation and torture. His death was a cruel one. No-one who witnessed his death on a hillside outside Jerusalem would have found the word ‘glorious’ come unbidden to their lips. Tears of grief fell on his mother as she held his lifeless body, torn and broken, in her arms. Yet, alone among humankind, she knew that she held the Salvation of the World; the wounded but glorious body of the Saviour. He who would transform death into life; who would turn defeat into victory; who would transform a broken body to a glorious, heavenly and everlasting Body.
The lives of those killed in war, the lives which ended so brutally and abruptly in this world are, like our own lives, the promise and first stage of lives which are eternal. This is the focus of Christian faith, the vantage point from which the waste and tragic loss endemic to human living can be seen in perspective. If Christ's tomb were not empty, our hope of eternal life would be an empty one. We live with the Divine assurance that ”Our citizenship is in heaven” and in our Father's house there are many mansions. For every one there is a place reserved, for which the accidents and providences of this present life are preparation. There is not least a place for the soldier wounded in his hands and feet and thrust through with a bayonet, cut down in the full flowering of his youth and vigour, yet now purged and cleansed by fire and anguish. This is the consummation of the final mystery of our union and our communion with God in heaven, when all shall have gone home, when our citizenship shall have become wholly real in heaven. It is then that we will know the completeness of God’s kingdom in the fullness of eternal life. This Requiem Mass for which we are met is a preparation and a rehearsal of those final mysteries. It establishes the heavenly commonwealth in a corner of this world. It helps us towards heaven, and it assists those who have gone before us as we plead for them Christ’s perfect sacrifice. And at the last: “There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end.”
Christ Church, Hampstead 2020