Sunday November 5, 2023
How sacred is this place! Its open door of grace behold, my soul and enter!
May all who worship here, believing God is near, find God is at the center.
Words Copyright © Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
Acknowledging the Territory
We acknowledge that, here in Yarmouth, we live work and worship in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” first signed with in 1725. By acknowledging this, we commit ourselves to live in Peace, Friendship and Respect.
Lighting the Christ Candle
There are times when our world seems to be a pretty dark place. There are times it is hard to see even a flicker of hope. But as we light our Christ Candle this morning, we are reminded that even in the darkest situation, God’s light can shine, and it can shine through us.
Call to Worship
We gather this day to hear God’s challenge to seek peace.
We accept the challenge of peace, seeking God’s help to pursue it.
We gather this day to hear God’s call to be peacemakers.
We respond to this call, asking God’s help to build bridges of peace in a suffering world.
We gather this day to name and confront our role in causing suffering and pain.
We acknowledge our silence and complicity with the powers that be.
We gather seeking ways to stand with the oppressed, the marginalized and the troubled people of the world.
We gather seeking to work for justice, liberation, healing and peace.
We gather to worship God.
Divine One, you have called us to not only live in peace with one another, but to be peace makers. We have not always lived up to this calling. Although we claim to value peace, we have been content to live with privilege and power, knowing that the vast majority in our world are powerless and struggle to have the basic things we take for granted. We have isolated ourselves from the pain, the fear, the hunger, and the desperation of so many in our world while enjoying our comfort and security. By our actions and our inaction, we have contributed to the causes of injustice, resentment, alienation, hostility, hatred and war. Forgive us God and open us to embrace your way of peace. Amen
Gift of Music For the Healing of the Nations VU#678
Service of Remembrance
*Reading of Names
*One Minute Silence
I have chosen to leave the Narrative Lectionary behind for this morning and have chosen instead to choose scriptures that speak to the struggle for peace that is so much a part of the reason we the 11th of November as Remembrance Day.
The first Scripture I have chosen is the traditional reading that we hear almost every year on Remembrance Day.
In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Our second reading is taken form the Gospel According to Luke. It is not one that is traditionally read on Remembrance Day. It tells the story of Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem. I can’t help but reflect that today, Jesus must weep for Gaza.
As [Jesus] came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
Our final reading is taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans. It talks about how we all fall short of the Divine image of peace and justice and how it is only through grace that we have hope.
as it is written: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness; there is not even one.”
“Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of vipers is under their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that, whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human will be justified before him by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed and is attested by the Law and the Prophets, the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Why We Remember
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So said George Santayana in 1905. In 1914, H. G. Wells predicted that WW1 would be, “The war to end all wars.” In 1946 Ernest Hemingway said, “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified is not a crime.” Bertrand Russel, somewhere around 1958, is quoted as saying, “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” In 2014 Pope Francis prayed, “Give us the courage to say: ‘Never Again War’.” And on Friday October 27th 2023, Pope Francis called for a World Day of Prayer for Peace, offering these words; “Let us heed the cry for peace of populations, of the people, of the children! Brothers and sisters, war does not solve any problem: it sows only death and destruction, foments hate and proliferates revenge. War cancels out the future. I urge believers to take just one side in this conflict: that of peace. But not with words – with prayer, with total dedication.”
Today we remember. We remember all those who took up arms and fought for what they believed in. We remember those who answered the call of our country to fight in wars around the world. We remember those who have been part of what we have called “peace-keeping missions”.
We remember all who have fought and died. And it is important that we remember them. It is important that we remember that none of these wars have ever been fought on our own soil and that part of the reason for that is because of what generations before us were willing to do to keep us safe.
This does not mean, however, that we should ever glorify war. No matter what the cause, no matter how bad the situation that leads to war, war is, as Ernest Hemingway said, a crime. It is a sad, cruel, senseless crime, in which no one ever truly wins. And as Pope Francis reminded us earlier this year, “war does not solve any problem.”
But as Pope Francis also reminded us, the cause of peace takes more than words. It takes total dedication. It takes a willingness on the part of all people to end, not only wars, but the things that lead to war. And the causes of war are often so complex and so varied that we are not even sure where to start.
Luke tells us that as Jesus approached Jerusalem, and he wept, saying, “If you … had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
We can all list some of the causes of war. Injustice and inequality within a society. Ideologies that claim one group of people is better or more deserving of what the world has to offer. Fear of not having enough or of loosing what you do have. Fear that if you don’t strike first, someone else will. Revenge for an act of defiance or aggression on the part of another. Feeling of powerlessness when the people in authority are not held accountability for their actions. Trying to maintain a system that benefits some at the expense of others. All these things and many more have led to armed conflicts and war since long before the time of recorded history.
Isaiah called to the people of his time saying, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” He promised that there would come a time when war would end and there would be no need for swords or spears. But before that could happen, people had to learn to walk in the paths of the Lord. God’s way is not the way of violence. But standing up against violence can only achieve so much. We must also stand up against the causes of violence.
In our Bible Study group this week, we talked about one of the basic causes of anger and violence. We talked about inequalities in our own society and in our own lives. I shared something that I heard in an interview from Gaza recently. The person talked about how, with so many people displaced, the house in which they were sheltering had become home for more than 50 people. They were forced to sleep in shifts, because there was not enough space for everyone to lie down at the same time.
Meanwhile, I live in a 4-bedroom house all by myself. My home is not large or luxurious, and there are certainly many homes in this town that are far nicer than mine. But my perspective on what I have, what I might deserve, differs greatly depending on whose life I am comparing with my own.
Now I’m not saying any of this to make anyone, including myself, feel guilty. What I am saying is that we need to be aware of where the injustices of our world, the causes of fear, anger, jealousy, powerlessness and violence intersect with our own lives.
It can all become very overwhelming and it can cause us to feel helpless to do anything. We want to remember and to honour those who have fought, but if we can’t prevent war, what do we do? Do we simply accept war as a reality and add more and more names to those we mourn? Do we teach our own children and grandchildren that there are times when they must pick a side and be willing to fight and perhaps die for a cause?
I come back to the words of Pope Francis, “take just one side in [any] conflict: that of peace.” But do so with prayer and dedication. Sometimes, that’s all we can do.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding … All have turned aside … For no human will be justified … by deeds… since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by [God’s gift of] grace”.
This is why, sometimes, all we can do is pray. This is why we have to accept that sometimes there are no good answers. This is why we must remember the past and learn from it.
But we must also trust that our prayers are heard and answered. And when that happens, we just might find there is sometimes we can do. We may never end war, but maybe, just maybe, we can help to decrease the causes of hate, jealousy and anger in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. And if we can do that, perhaps war too will decrease.
Gift of Music O Day of Peace VU#682
We Offer Our Gifts
There is much work to be done and we all have our ways of contributing. One of those ways is through our financial support of this church. If you chose to support the work of this church you can place your offering in the offering plates at the back of the church or you can make arrangement to give through PAR or through online donations. And so as we sing our offertory response, we bring forward some of those gifts.
Offertory Response #538
For the gift of creation, the gift of your love and the gift of the Spirit
by which we live, we thank you and give you the fruit of our hands.
May your grace be proclaimed by the gifts that we give.
As you have blessed us in all that you have given us, we ask that you will bless the gifts that we bring that they too may become a blessing. Amen.
© Words and Music copyright 1991 Abingdon Press. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
We Offer Our Prayers
God is always as near as our next breath. God always listen when we pray, whether those prayers are written down and placed in our prayer jar or whether they as said in the silence of our hearts. So let us bring our silent, personal prayers to God with confidence, knowing that they are always heard … Amen.
Minute for Mission
Call to Prayer #400
Lord, Listen to your children praying, Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, Listen to your children praying, send us love, send us power, send us grace
© Words and Music copyright Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756
Prayers of the People
Divine One, we pray for peace for those who weep in silence, peace for those who cannot speak for themselves, peace for those who dare not speak, peace where all hope of peace seems to have disappeared …
In the midst of violence, hatred, and rage; in the midst of intolerance, bigotry, and ethnic cleansing; in the midst of political upheaval, social conflict, armed confrontations and war, Divine One lead us to hope …
We pray for peace for those who raise their voices to demand it; peace when there are many voiced raised against it; peace where there are many who do not wish to hear; peace that helps find a way to justice …
We pray for those who have lived so long with hatred and violence that they see no other way; those who are placed in positions where they see no choice but to fight; those who desperately cling to the hope that fighting will change unjust, and unacceptable situations …
We pray for all the innocent civilians caught in the middle, those who are killed and injured, those who mourn the death of family and friends, those who have been left homeless, those who struggle to survive after having lost everything, and those who will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the trauma of war …
Teach us how to become the channels through which justice and peace, integrity and honesty, equality and acceptance, may flow to all, the influential and the powerless, the privileged and the dispossessed, the affluent and the desperate. Help us to hold tightly to your vision of hope, peace and plenty for all. Amen.
Gift of Music O God of Every Nation VU#677
Jesus taught us, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” May God grant us the vision, strength, and courage to proclaim God’s message of peace whether welcome or unwelcome. And may we do so, always knowing, that we are not alone. The One who gives us the vision is with us. The One who lived out that vision in human form, shows us the way. And the One is Divine Vision all around us and within us, will always be there. And so, as we leave this place, let us go with God.
Choral Blessing MV#222
May the peace of God be your peace.
May the love of God be the love you show.
May the joy of God be the joy you know,
And may the world that God would see be found in you
© Words and Music copyright 1991 Abingdon Press. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756