Remembrance 2012

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John 15:9-17
SMAS 10.45
(11-11-12)

I wonder what you think of when we hear people talk about heroes? Maybe you think of the chocolates? (sorry – I haven’t got any!) Maybe you think of characters like Batman, Superman, James Bond or Dr Who? Maybe for you – you have a person you picture: Mahatma Gandhi, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King. Today we remember those who we call heroes. Those who gave and continue to give their lives for each one of us – so that we could be free. Today we wear our poppies. But why do we use the symbol of the poppy today?

John McCrae wrote:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The poppy is a universal symbol of remembrance. It enables us to remember those who shed their blood for us and gave their lives so that we might be free and have life. A writer first made the connection between the poppy and death on the battle field during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with blood red flowers after the fighting ended.

During the tremendous bombardments of the First World War – the chalk soils became rich in lime from the rubble and the poppy bloomed. After John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields was published in 1915 the poppy became a popular symbol for soldiers who died in battle.

Three years later an American, Moina Michael, was working in a New York City YMCA canteen when she started wearing a poppy in memory of the millions who died on the battlefield. During a 1920 visit to the United States, a French woman, Madame Guerin, learned of the custom. On her return to France she decided to use handmade poppies to raise money for the destitute children in war-torn areas of the country. She persuaded Earl Haig to adopt the poppy for the British Legion.

The poppy reminds us very simply that we are free. It reminds us of those who shed their blood for us and who continue to go to war to fight for peace and freedom. War did not end in 1918, or in 1945. War continues today, all over the world, in many countries war is being fought. Right now people are giving their lives fighting for freedom and we need to pray for them and for their families, as they strive to bring peace to troubled places.

To be a peacemaker you have to understand the real definition of peace. True peace is not the absence of conflict. True peace is not simply two enemies who are not fighting. It is – an absence of conflict in which opposite sides are being brought together in righteousness, ending in a right relationship. There are some that think a truce is a peace treaty. John MacArthur says, "A truce just says you don’t shoot for awhile. Peace comes when the truth is known, the issue is settled, and the parties embrace each other." "Peacemakers" are those disciples who strive to prevent contention and strife. However, they are not peacekeepers, but are active makers of peace. They use their influence to reconcile opposing party strife among individuals, families, churches, and the community. They change hostile attitudes to attitudes that seek the best interests of everyone.

Today we remember the poppy.

There is also another symbol of peace. The cross. It too is a symbol of pain and suffering yet one which has hope. The cross of Jesus sets us free. He shed his blood for us on the cross so that we may be free in Christ. The cross brings us the promise of Christ, of peace and of freedom in him. The cross is the symbol of hope, of certainty and of freedom. God loves us – the least we can do is love each other. God calls us to love as he loves and he calls each of us to be peacemakers where we are. That might be at home, with our friends and family, in our leisure time and even at church. Not people who simply keep the peace – all too often that’s easy to do but people who make the peace. There is a difference and God calls us all who believe in him to be peacemakers. The cross brought peace as it reconciled God to man, we need to bring and show peace to those around us.

John 15: 9-17 says; "12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other. God calls us to love one another." That’s the task that he has set us all. The fruit that will last are the fruit of the spirit. We need to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

God calls us to be heroes for him. People who will stand up and stand out and make a difference. We are not called to be superheroes – we are not Superman or Superwoman – but God does have a plan for each one of us. He calls us to be heroes where we are. We may not be called to be a hero and give up our lives for others – but God gave up his life for us – simply because he loves us all so very much and he wants us to be with him for eternity.

He is the ultimate hero that we have inside our hearts, with us always and all days. He is our hero – he is the one who is always there, he is the one who is real, living and with us – no matter what situations we face, no matter what comes our way. God is our hero – or he should be. Christ himself brought us peace. With his own body he broke down the wall that separates us from sin. God is holy and perfect and can’t stand anything that is unjust or evil. God loves us and did something about the wall that separates us from him. He sent Jesus, his son. Instead of us being punished for the wrong things we have done, Jesus was punished for us. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. This is his command: Love one another.

Written and presented by Captain Emma Knights