Welcome (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13)
You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers.
Call to Worship
Let us bless the Lord at all times;
God’s praise will always be on our lips.
Magnify the Lord in all ways;
We will lift up God’s name together in worship and in service.
God, send your light and your truth as we gather to worship.
May they lead us into your holy presence.
Love, I will love you Lord
God of grace, We come on this day remembering. We remember how evil we are capable of, how so many people experience the power of death through humanity, and how we live in sin breaking bonds between you and us and one another.
God of mercy,
we confess that the world around us is broken and heartbreaking.
Countries turn disputes over territory into threats of terror.
Old enemies stir up conflict within tribes and nations.
The threat of violence keeps us all on edge.
We have not learned from past conflicts
what leads to peace with justice among nations and neighbours.
Forgive us all.
God of Peace,
Bring us into your peace .
Make us one in your Son our Lord. Amen.
Scripture: Micah 3:1-4
And I said:
Listen, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel!
Should you not know justice?—you who hate the good and love the evil,
who tear the skin off my people, and the flesh off their bones;
who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them,
break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle,
like flesh in a cauldron.
Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them;
he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly.
Sermon: Lest we forget
It is the Sunday we solemnly remember the atrocity that took place in wars. After WWII came to an end, many countries including Canada chose to remember on the 11th day of the 11th month how humanity came to devastation in Europe and many parts of the world. As the solemn pledge not to repeat the tragedy, poppies have been worn with three words, “Lest we forget!” Yet now a generation of leaders, born just as the war was ending and after WWII, never having lived through the devastation of WWII have risen up to delude themselves as leaders of indispensable, exceptional and sole power of this world, war-mongering all over the world on the excuse that they are keeping the world secure.
Any war is a bad enough event. It is worse when God is invoked and references to the Scriptures are made to justify killings. Most of those who returned from WWII kept their traumas in them silently, never speaking to anyone. They continued to come out to remind everyone on remembrance day that wars are not solutions for problems of our world. Yet, as less and less of them are with us, generations who come after are forgetting what humanity went through in WWI, WWII and many other wars since. As they forget more and more, leaders of these new generations become bolder and bolder in displaying their ambition for naked power to destroy others. Sadly, technological advancements mean greater harm and more killings with high efficiency.
These new generations of leaders have nothing to remember. They have not been to wars. These leaders have no idea what suffering is. Most of them in the countries like the United States, Canada, England, Germany, France and Israel were born and grew up in peacetime to well to do families. Most of them do not know what it means to live as bombs are dropped and bullets fly all around them as sounds of drones permeate quiet night skies. They have no memory of wars and atrocities of wars. They have nothing to worry about in terms of forgetting the lessons we learned in the past. Ideally we hope that we study history in order to learn from past mistakes. However, with the current leaders we have in these countries, it is difficult to know whether they are willing to learn from history or think they know more than enough to run this world as they please.
In Christian life, we always remember. We remember how Jesus, his disciples and many who proclaimed to follow him were put to death. We remember not to bring vengeance on others, but to offer compassion, grace and love of God. Our whole Christian ritual is based on remembering. We take it very seriously to remember in order not to forget how Christ came to love the world and gave his life for the world. We follow his footsteps. This is why the world that is infused with the love Christ brought stand against the evil of this world through heaping God’s love even on our enemies. We respond to the world with nothing but love no matter how the power of death threatens us.
In this love Christ brought is the power and strength to speak truth to power as well as courage to speak out against injustice in the world. There is no lack of fortitude when we see abuse, oppression and wrongdoing. We witness and proclaim the truth that God has given us with firm resolve because we love those who are weak, meek, powerless and oppressed. In Christ’s love we bring the love that gives life even to those who are dying or decaying in corruption of their spirits under the power of death. We are not shrinking violets when we face the power of death in this world, but disciples who give our lives in service to God.
This morning’s passage from Micah is very important for Christians as we face the terrible killings and oppression in Gaza and West Bank. Micah puts it clearly. God will turn away from those leaders who hate the good and love the evil. This phrase, “hate the good and love the evil,” is a reference for those who no longer follow God’s way with others, but looking after one’s own good only selfishly. Those who hate the good are those who no longer care for others' well being and neighbours needs. Those who love evil are the ones who do everything for their own benefits in detriment to those around them.
Throughout history the leaders who serve their own selfish interest did not hesitate to use the powerless, weak and poor, sacrificing them for the purpose of becoming more powerful and rich. To do such a thing is to carry on doing evil over good. These leaders do not concern themselves with the responsibility of looking after people who are put under their care. They forget that the well being both in body and spirit of people are entrusted to them. In the Biblical understanding, including the Old Testament, leaders are responsible for the kind of life everyone enjoys under them. They have the responsibility over all, both their citizens as well as those foreigners who live under their rules. When they forget this trust and only do things to benefit themselves at the expense of the poor, weak, meek as well as the strangers among them, God refuses to hear their pleas and will not bless them.
Wars, not just the current wars, but wars of all kinds including just wars, ultimately deteriorate into spectacles of deaths of the innocent, powerless, weak and meek. Hunger and poverty are consequences that kill even more people during wars. Without means to produce and provide for themselves during wars, the first ones to be abused, exploited and oppressed are not the powerful people who are leaders and those surrounding leaders, but regular people without power to stop wars. The sad reality of wars where the sons of the poor are sent to the frontlines to die while the sons of the leaders are often removed far from wars are not lost on those who served in the past conflicts and wars. These veterans remind us not to forget this evil by being living witnesses.
In all wars, however, the leaders invoke their gods to win. The God of the Bible, however, makes it very clear in this morning’s passage that God will not answer them. No matter how badly their battles turn, this God who sent Jesus will not answer those leaders who put their own interests before the lives of people. In today’s Middle East as conflict flares up in Gaza we hear the leaders of various people crying out invoking God or God’s promise. They have forgotten that as leaders they are to serve their people, especially the vulnerable. God will not take their side no matter how they justify their reasons as just in slaughtering the innocent, the powerless, the weak, the meek as well as the foreigners/strangers living among them entrusted to their care.
God entrusts people to leaders. These leaders are to love people including strangers among their people. Leaders are not given powers to destroy, but to love. This responsibility cannot and should not be forgotten by leaders. Wars in the world are inevitable as leaders fight over power and might. Ordinary soldiers who lost their comrades in battles stand witnessing the atrocities of war reminding us not to forget the evil that war brings. Their living memory testifies to God’s demand on leaders to care for their people especially the ones who are at the margins and under their care. The most vulnerable among them or the least among them are to be loved with compassion. Humanity knows that the least includes foreigners. As people of God, we know that leaders, including the leaders of today’s Israel, have responsibility to protect and care for all peoples regardless of ethnicity.
Today we remember this responsibility God gave to us. We remember with those soldiers who experienced so much carnage in battles the responsibility of each person to love her neigbhour. In remembrance, humanity stands up as one to cry out against the world that loves the evil and hates the good. We plead with leaders that when they perpetuate wars invoking God’s name God no longer hears them. We witness to these leaders God given responsibility to care for all peoples, including the people they occupy. Micah speaks truth to the power of his day. The very truth Micah spoke against the power in his day is the very truth we proclaim against today’s powers and principalities who are waging war against each other massacring the powerless, the weak, the meek as well as foreigners among them.
Our Christian stance on this Remembrance Day is to manifest God’s love in Christ for all humanity so that the powerless, the weak, the meek, and the foreigners among peoples are loved and cared for instead of having their lives snuffed out. It is our task to speak the truth that Micah spoke to the powers of today by bringing the love of Christ, setting his table among those who face bombs and bullets and those witnessing deaths of their loved ones as bombs drop and bullets fly.
God of all the ages past, hope of years to come
We gather in this season of remembrance,
grateful that you hold each one of us in your memory and your mystery
now and for all the time to come.
Today we remember all those who have served to preserve justice and freedom
in the wars of the last century,
in conflicts of our own generation
and in peace keeping and relief efforts around the world,
thinking especially of those who have died
and those who carry scars on body and soul.
We remember their courage
and we remember their families who still ache for lives surrendered at great cost.
Today we remember the victims of conflict,
hiding in forgotten corners of the world, longing for safety and peace;
and those seeking refuge among us.
We remember victims of violence in our own country,
still fearful and uncertain about the future
Help us remember to speak out for their protection and recovery.
Today we remember all those around us
who struggle to remember day by day;
those who must cope with the fear of forgetting those who matter most to them
and with the fear of being forgotten
Help us remember to reach out in comfort and support so no one is forgotten.
Today we remember all those around us who carry on
under the burden of sad and hard memories;
those weighed down by grief or disappointment,
by anger, pain and loss.
Help us remember to offer a listening ear and an understanding heart.
God of all the ages past, hope of years to come,
help us remember you day by day.
Keep us prepared to lift up the grace and truth of your Gospel
to shine into the harsh and distorted corners of the world
so that the world will see we are faithful followers of Jesus
who taught us when we pray together to say:
The Lord’s Prayer
Birthday Party for people born in November
Remember that we will have lunch after the service as a party for November Birthdays today.
We are planning a fundraising concert with Mike, Joan and friends on Friday, November 10 at 7 pm. Please mark your calendars. We ask you to spread the word about this concert. Invite your friends and neighbours.
All proceeds from the concert will be used for our budget that includes our local mission work. As we shared with you, most of our mission funding comes from our own budget. We are continuing to carry on with English Classes, Fellowship Programs, Cooking Programs, Emergency Food, Spending Time Drawing and many other activities. These are funded by our budget. Also we provide various emergency aids to those who are in need.
There will be a Concert on Sunday, November 26 at 3 pm. Everyone is welcome. This is one of our reaching out concerts. That means, it is designed to invite many strangers and neighbours to come to the church and offer us an opportunity to invite them to join our church community.
Baking Saturdays at 1:30 pm
We have begun baking cookies with children on Saturdays. Our intention is to do this until or near Christmas. If you like to come and have fun baking, please do not hesitate to come. Also let your family, friends and neighbours with children know. It will be on Saturdays at 1:30 pm.
Watercolour Painting, Saturdays at 1:30 pm
If you like to paint, learn to paint, or just spend time with people painting, come out on Saturdays at 1:30 pm and enjoy the fellowship. Spend time away from all the problems of our world.
Be still my soul