Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homily for Remembrance Sunday 2011 St Matthew's at 8.00

They will beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
(Micah 4:3)

Today in this church and at memorials across the country we will gather to remember those who have died in war. Some will remember those lost in battle more than half a century ago – but still loved and missed.Others will focus on much more recent events...Today I'm remembering M,a young soldier whose wedding I conducted in this church just 3 summers ago.How smart he looked in his uniform that day, as he knelt here beside his a widow with a little daughter who will grow up not knowing her Daddy.
Today we're united in our thoughts as we give thanks for selfless sacrifice, confess that we too are part of a broken sinful human race that still follows paths of destruction, and pray for peace on earth & an end to the madness & waste of war.

Micah predicts terrible times of war for the people of Israel. But then he goes on with this amazing vision – the day when peace will replace warfare and swords will be made into ploughs.
Well, after 2700 years we are still waiting! Bad news.
In the years since the end of World War 2
there have been only 26 days
when there has not been a major war raging somewhere on the planet.
With the psalmist we might well cry “How long, oh Lord, how long”
Of course ultimate peace and justice and joy will come only at the end of time in the Kingdom of God.But it is never too soon to start cultivating the oasis of peace in the desert of our war mongering world.
In the words of Mahatma Ghandi,
Peace is not something that you wish for.
It is something that you make, something that you do,
something that you are, something that you give away.”
And if we really want to honour those who died in war,
we can do no better than by building a more peaceful loving world
for their children and ours.
Micah’s vision may not be fully realized, but as Christians we are called to make peace – to turn swords into ploughshares - again and again and again...We know that there is nothing that cannot be transformed by God...and as we wait for the ultimate transformation of our battered world, there are smaller transformations going on...each of them a sign of hope.
So, let me tell you a story...It comes from Christian Aid.
Senhor Sousa Manuel Goao,
was born near Maputo in Mozambique. 
In 1981, aged 23, he was kidnapped at gunpoint
by anti-government rebel troops
and forced to march 150 miles to a training camp in the bush
near the border with South Africa.
'They made us march barefooted
so we couldn't run away.
Anyone who did try and run was lined up in front of us and shot,'
says Sr Goao. In order to survive, his unit would hunt wild animals,
raid farms or attack civilians.
When the cease-fire was agreed in 1992,
United Nations troops were meant to disarm both sides.
They collected some weapons but most remained hidden.
But in 2001 Snr Goao handed over 5 guns -
four AK47s and an automatic rifle.   
He gave them to a small church-based charity
supported by Christian Aid
called the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM).
In return he received a sewing machine -
he had two already which were given to him
in exchange for guns he had previously handed in.
CCM is a small organization
working with a couple of old trucks that keep breaking down –
but the organisation has collected and destroyed
more than 100,000 guns, grenades and rocket launchers.
Those who give up their weapons are given tools -
ploughs, bicycles and sewing machines.
In a land where many struggle to make enough money to eat,
a simple plough can be the difference between life and death 
The Mozambique government supports the operation.
It knows former rebels would not hand in weapons to the authorities
for fear they would be prosecuted.
The weapons are cut up in CCM's compound in Maputo
and the pieces are handed over to a group of Mozambican artists
who turn them into sculptures.
They even make chairs and coffee tables out of cut-up Kalashnikovs.

It is a practical solution based on the Bible”,
says Mozambican Bishop Dinis Sengulane.
”I say to people that sleeping with a gun in your bedroom
is like sleeping with a snake -
one day it will turn round and bite you.
We tell people we are not disarming you.
We are transforming your guns into ploughshares,
so you can cultivate your land and get your daily bread.
We are transforming them into sewing machines
so you can make clothes.
The idea is to transform the instruments of death and destruction
into instruments of peace and
of production and cooperation with others.”
(Christian Aid) 

Peace and co-operation...
Ideals to cultivate even for we who are spared the horror of living in a war zone.
For, you know as well as I do that the seeds of war come from within....that each of us has the potential to hurt and destroy or to mend and heal.
So, pause for a moment. Think of those things in your life...old resentments, pointless irritations, habits of intolerance or lack of love...
Know that these carry the potential for violence or destruction, that they destroy peace and harmony, within you even if they do no harm elsewhere.
Offer them to God....Lord, remake me...transform and transfigure me, so that I may become a peacemaker, blessed as a child of God.


Anonymous said...

You do have a way with words. I'm sure you know that. However, the power of words, telling others what to do, however eloquently, is silly.

Pollyanna-ish sermons are dishonest. Go to Africa. See the people who don't know when they are going to eat again. See real poverty. On the edge.

Half the world has nothing to eat. That is how well your God provides.

You are a clever woman. If your raison d'etre is a lie, whereby you preach what you need to hear, it's a waste of time.

To the person who told you it was sufficient to minister to the people, I would say, no. Not if you want to occupy the moral highground.

You should live it. So should your family.

I guess you're lost.

Sorry, but I came from a very wealthy family and gave it away. I think I'm in the box seat.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kathryn said...

Good morning, Anon...Sorry you don't feel able to come out of hiding to talk - I'd be happy to discuss but not with someone who isn't prepared to remove their mask. Sorry. I gave you the opportunity to talk properly after your earlier appearance. Very tempting to engage here (I did spend time in India, for example, - so know something of how those on the edge cling on - often to life as well as faith)...but as you won't say who you are, and are so set on personal attack, I prefer to stay silent.

Viksterbean said...

To Anonymous,
You believe that you you're in the box seat?
Attacking someone without showing your face shows neither courage nor the moral high ground.
I think the only person lost, in this scenario, is you.
If you don't believe in God or what Kathryn preaches then why waste your time reading her blog or commenting on it in such an unpleasant way?

P.s Please don't confuse me with someone who dislikes differences of opinion, I merely dislike personal attacks.

Viksterbean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon Martin said...

Understand completely why you are doing this. My comments following the last trolling incident still stand.
God bless you. Some of us who read your blog appreciate the situation you are in and admire your honesty.
Simon Martin

fluffy duck said...

People with strong opinions should have the courage of their convictions and come out of the shadows......

Fiona Marcella said...

Thank you for this Kathryn. We had a dignified, well conducted service here which was suitable and sensible for Remembrance but gave fewer pointers as to what to do NOW. Thank you for these signposts.

Kathryn said...

Only removed Vikster Bean's comment because the same one was showing up twice...nothing untoward here...

Still Breathing said...

Kathryn, Beautiful sermon sharing the horrible cost of war and showing us that by supporting Christian Aid we can do a little to help.

God bless


serena said...

Thanks Kathryn. I for one really needed to hear about a practical movement for peace xXx