1st Scripture reading: Psalm 78
“We will tell new generations of the wonders God has done.” This is a big part of why we do this Remembrance Day worship service.
Sacrifice. The sacrifice of so many young lives in the pursuit of an ideal – an ideal of a free and peaceful world. To seek justice and resist evil. These things are what God requires of us – these things are what make us children of God – one with God – partners in the whole of Creation.
And these are the things we must faithfully teach each new generation, so that we don’t forget the lessons so painfully learned. This is why we wear poppies every year, this is why our veterans find the time and energy to go out to our schools and talk to the children, this is why we have museums dedicated to war – museums like the one in the basement of our own Royal Canadian Legion, where adults and children alike learn about the horrors and the enormous sacrifices that are part and parcel of every war.
As Christians we learn about the sacrifice of Jesus who came to teach us a better way to live, and as a direct result, was called to give up his life – a sacrifice – so that we might remember – might never forget – the Way of life he taught us. He lived and died that we might all know that we are the Beloved of God – forgiven and embraced, without exception.
This is the lesson of sacrifice. If we choose to remember we can avoid making the same mistakes, we can learn from our experience and become better people, more just and compassionate communities.
Sacrifice has real value to our consciousness as human beings. Sacrifice is an awesome word and embodies sacred deeds. We shall remember them. We must remember them.
Hymn #299 VU “Teach Me God to Wonder”
2nd Scripture reading: Mark 14:3-9
Jesus told us that Mary would be remembered for what she had done in the anointing at Bethany. Perhaps this does not look t o you like a sacrificial act – but I think it was. Mary saw something that others did not see on this day. She “saw” the great sacrifice that Jesus was about to make. She “saw” and grieved the inevitable outcome of the path he was on.
Mary’s very public act of self-giving love to Jesus who was about to die for broken humanity – that act went solidly against the cultural norms of the day and probably deeply damaged her reputation as a woman.
We might see here that an act of sacrifice, to be remembered well, must be made public in some way. Jesus death on a cross was a very public event. Mary’s anointing of Jesus was a very public event.
The countless deaths of military personnel and innocent civilians in times of war – those are only made public by our conscious efforts to keep those memories alive.
That is why, people of God, we must continue to make these efforts to consciously remember these sacrifices made in the past, as well as those made in our own times. We must teach our children to respect and to learn from those who put their lives and reputations on the line in service of that which is good and that which is true. Peace and harmony must not become an excuse for lack of courage in the face of injustice.
For only if we are willing to learn from the past can we anticipate a better future. The seeds of that future are sown in the present, in the place we live right now.
Hymn #703VU “In the Bulb there is a Flower”