Our series of services on the theme of “Giving” started with our Harvest Festival, in which we were vividly reminded of so much being given to the work and worship of God. Two full car loads of food for the Foodbank were brought to our church; our Pre-School children had provided some wonderful decorations, as had the children from Sunday Fun Club; Morag Slater and her team had created some beautiful and original flower displays; twice as much food had been brought for the Harvest Lunch than we could all eat; the Guides had worked hard to put an inspiring and thought-provoking service together and, of course, the gift of music was offered by John Castle and our Music Group. It was during the Harvest Festival Service that we took the opportunity to express our thanks and appreciation to John for serving now for thirty years as our organist and director of music. We know how privileged we are to have a musician of his calibre sharing his gifts with us so faithfully and generously and we were glad to have the chance to say thank-you.
During the week leading up to Harvest Festival, I had my first meeting with the Scouts, to start thinking about our November Church Parade, which will of course be Remembrance Sunday. This again will be about “Giving” but giving of a very different kind. There will not be the joy and exuberance that comes from celebrating the abundance of life and an opportunity to share it together but more the solemn remembrance of those who offered their lives in the defence of their country, in full awareness that they themselves might never live to share in any reward. Their “giving” was totally self-sacrificial, offered for the benefit of future generations. This year we shall be remembering especially three young men who grew up within our own congregation here, who gave their lives for our future wellbeing.
In the Christian church we frequently draw the comparison between the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ and the sacrificial deaths of men and women in World Wars 1 and 2. And we are accused at times of placing heavy burdens of guilt and obligation on people’s shoulders. It is a humbling thought that Jesus Christ gave his life in the hopes of reconciling the world to God and that a large proportion of the world has steadfastly refused to be reconciled to God.
It is also a humbling thought that the sacrifice of so many young lives in World War One (the “war to end all wars”) did not result in world peace but in World War Two, and many more wars to come.
We can only take inspiration from the thought that those who went out to offer their lives for the wellbeing of future generations must have believed that we (the future generations) were worth it. And maybe this inspiration will help us to be worth it and to work for the kind of world they hoped we would enjoy.
And we can surely take hope from the belief that Jesus Christ thought us worth dying for. If the Son of God himself believed us worth it, then who are we ever to think that we are not? There is Celebration as well as Commemoration in Remembrance Sunday; there is Hope as well as Hurt. As those who served in the Wars saw a reason to die, let us, as we remember them find a reason to live.
With love and good wishes to you all,