Letter to parishioners, 13 November 2021

Saturday, 13 November 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday. This important day represents just one moment in the year when we should pause and reflect upon the sacrifice of those who, through warfare and terror, have lost their lives. Remembrance Day no longer honours the dead of the First World War alone. Sadly, the war to end all wars proved to be anything but that. War and terror have continued to hold humanity in their thrall as peoples have continued to set themselves against each other in the name of some political or religious doctrine that they feel should take precedence over all else.

In Sunday’s reading from Mark’s gospel (Mark 13.1-8) we will hear Jesus speaking of wars and rumours of wars. In these words, he is not condoning the way in which humanity demonstrates its anger and pride through violence and destruction, but rather, he is acknowledging the way in which we allow ourselves to become distanced from God and our Christian calling to love and serve in a spirit of humility.

Before Jesus says: nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, we will hear of one of his disciples being overwhelmed by the magnificence of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was certainly a magnificent building, but it was the product of human ingenuity. As we know, the creativity and pride of human beings is always destined to crumble and fall, just as the Temple did when Jerusalem was attacked in 70AD. In our reading, Jesus seems to be predicting this destruction, and his disciples question him further, seeking to establish some sort of timeline for his prediction. It is then that Jesus speaks the words that should be constantly ringing in our ears when politicians and military leaders seek to convince us that conflict is the only solution: Beware that no one leads you astray.

Jesus came to earth to bring a counter-cultural message, a message that demands our turning away from pride and anger, hostility and violence. In that simple, yet challenging, message Jesus is opening a new way for us all to come into God’s promised eternal life. However, we are human! We do make mistakes and we do fail to live up to the challenge set by Jesus. But … that does not mean that we should not try, or that we should not challenge those who would deride and seek to contradict Jesus’ teaching.

On this Remembrance Day, let us pray for new resolve. Let us pray that we might play our small part in bringing about the peace that Jesus envisaged for the whole of humanity. Let us pray that we might not be led astray by those whose eloquence is rooted in sin rather than purity, unity and peace. Let us pray that we might be faithful to our Christian calling in our daily lives and in the way we interact with others no matter who or what they may be. Let us pray that we might learn to listen to God’s call and love and serve in humility and peace every moment of every day.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen