Worship for Sunday 12th December 2023, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Remembrance Sunday

Be still!
We come to quiet ourselves in this haven of holiness.
Be still and know . . .
we come to discern the Word which can set us free.
Be still and know that God is
our Hope, our Help, our Refuge, and our Redeemer. 

Hymn: StF 696 For the healing of the nations

For the healing of the nations,
Lord, we pray with one accord,
for a just and equal sharing
of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action
help us rise and pledge our word.

Lead us forward into freedom,
from despair your world release,
that, redeemed from war and hatred,
all may come and go in peace.
Show us how through care and goodness
fear will die and hope increase.

All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice
may we hallow brief life’s span.

You, Creator God, have written
your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness
bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service
earth its destiny may find.

Fred Kaan (1929 – 2009), words © 1968 Stainer & Bell, reproduced under CCLI licence no.263530


Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled,
and do not let them be afraid.

And the prophet Micah says:
“What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.”

Let us pray:

We meet in the presence of God.
We commit ourselves to work in penitence and faith
for reconciliation in our families, communities and nation,
that all people may, together,
live in freedom, justice and peace.
We pray for all who, in bereavement, disability and pain
continue to suffer the consequences of fighting and terror.

We remember with thanksgiving and sorrow
those whose lives,
in world wars and conflicts past and present,
have been given and taken away. Amen.

Reading: Micah 4:1 – 5

4 In days to come
    the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
    and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
    and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
    and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
    and no one shall make them afraid;
    for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

For all the peoples walk,
    each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
    for ever and ever.

Reading: Matthew 5:43 – 48

43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Hymn: StF 693: Beauty for Brokenness

Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in the suffering
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!

Shelter for fragile lives
Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed
Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can’t speak

God of the poor
Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Refuge from cruel wars
Havens from fear
Cities for sanctuary
Freedoms to share
Peace to the killing-fields
Scorched earth to green
Christ for the bitterness
His cross for the pain

Rest for the ravaged earth
Oceans and streams
Plundered and poisoned
Our future, our dreams
Lord, end our madness
Carelessness, greed
Make us content with
The things that we need

Lighten our darkness
Breathe on this flame
Until your justice
Burns brightly again
Until the nations
Learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
And bring you their praise

Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music, reproduced under CCLI licence no.263530


What can we find to say on Remembrance Sunday this year? The war in Ukraine drags on, less in the spotlight now. The war between Israel and Hamas flares into unimaginable horror, leaving us with no words in the face of heartbreak and tragedy. And in the forgotten corners of the world – Ethiopia, Myanmar, Yemen – people continue to suffer and die. ‘When will you ever learn?’ Pete Seeger sang, back in 1955 – almost seventy years on, when, indeed, will we ever learn?

Micah’s words invite us to keep on hoping that God has a better future in store. Out of a time of war, when the Assyrian empire was attacking, he envisions a world where people flock from every part of the world to learn God’s way of life, to attend to God’s teaching and to receive God’s word. The inevitable outcome of this, for Micah, is that weapons of war become tools for farming, destruction becomes nurture and no-one goes hungry or afraid. It must have been hard for God’s people to accept this message of hope when they were facing attack from a much more powerful neighbour – despair flows so easily from fear, exhaustion and grief. Micah’s words give people a reason to keep on going, in hope and trust that God will lead them to a better place where they can flourish.

Jesus’ words must have been equally hard for his disciples. They were living under occupation, their country colonised by the Roman empire. The people faced their enemies daily, and thirty years after Jesus’ death they rebelled against them with massive loss of life. Hatred for the enemy could so easily have become part of who they were – and yet Jesus tells them that the God-centred response to enemies is love. He embodied this in his own life and death, sharing the good news with all, facing the cross for all – not just his friends but those who rejected him and plotted his death.   

Hope and love: the hard demands of God’s word on folk who want to turn to hatred and despair. How do we find the strength and courage to follow God into ways of life that reflect the power and amazing grace of God’s promises to us? When will we ever learn?

I was at a concert earlier in the week. One of the songs drew on the story of Edith Cavell, a nurse executed in Belgium during the First World War for helping British soldiers escape capture. ‘Patriotism is not enough’, she said; ‘I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.’ She nursed every wounded soldier – need counted for more than nationality. She chose to make herself open to the reality of God’s love for all people, each and every one made in the image of God.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a refugee who had fled Syria with her young daughter. The words I recall from that conversation: ‘I don’t want to hate the people I’ve left behind. I don’t want to become like they are. I’m better than that’.

Hope and love: they come from recognising ourselves and others as children of God, alive in the Spirit, inspired by Jesus, living in the love of God and rejecting the corrupting darkness of despair and hate. And in this season of remembrance, we pray that God will give us this strength, and make us channels of peace – for if there is ever to be peace on earth, it will begin with you and me.

Prayers for peace

On this Remembrance Sunday,
we remember past wars:
those who fought in them;
those who lived through them;
those who died in them.

We pray for the victims of past wars,
remembering before you, loving God,
those who died in battle,
or from the consequences of injury or disease,
and those who mourned or still mourn them.
We remember those permanently maimed or disabled,
and those psychologically scarred or disturbed.
We pray for an end to the suffering of war.

We pray for the victims of current conflicts,
remembering before you, loving God,
children trained to hate and fight,
families turned into homeless refugees,
and lands laid waste and made barren.
We remember those blinded or crippled
and those driven insane by nightmare experiences.
We pray for an end to the destructive hatred of war.

We pray for the peace of the world
remembering before you, loving God,
areas where there is armed conflict, especially Gaza, Israel, Palestine; Ukraine; Ethiopia; Yemen; Myanmar
and all those who are working for peace.
We remember that you have called us to strive together for the coming of your kingdom of love and peace.
We pray that you will equip us for the task
with the faith that knows
that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

In the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace.


Hymn: StF 698  God! As with silent hearts we bring to mind

God! As with silent hearts we bring to mind

how hate and war diminish humankind,

we pause – and seek in worship to increase

our knowledge of the things that make for peace.


Hallow our will as humbly we recall

the lives of those who gave and give their all.

We thank you, Lord, for women, children, men

who seek to serve in love, today as then.


Give us deep faith to comfort those who mourn,

high hope to share with all the newly born,

strong love in our pursuit of human worth:

‘lest we forget’ the future of this earth.


So, Prince of Peace, disarm our trust in power,

teach us to coax the plant of peace to flower.

May we, impassioned by your living Word,

remember forward to a world restored.

 Fred Kaan (1929 – 2009), Words © 1997 Stainer & Bell, reproduced under CCLI licence no.263530