An act of worship at home
Reading 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18
The Coming of the Lord
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
There was a phrase coined some years ago by George Bush when he was president on the United States and not long after the terrorist attack of 9/11 he spoke about “war on terror”. Similar sentiments have been express in the last few months about the whole world being at war against the invisible enemy of Covid-19.
As someone who’s lived my life in the UK I am too young to have experienced the horror of war coming to my country, town, village and even home that those who lived through the second world war did. but of course millions of people around the world have and are experiencing just such horrors.
So perhaps to describe the current pandemic as a war is going too far. As someone said to me recently, it’s a strange war when in order to win it you have to sit at home binging on Netflix (not that I am I hasten to add).
I know what they meant, but still, there is something of a sense of war, especially when we remember those who have suffered and died. Members of our communities, even of some of our churches, who have lost their lives because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because they were doctors or nurses who put their own lives at risk and paid the ultimate sacrifice trying to save others’ lives.
Normally at this time of year we remember those who have died in wars between nations, and it is right we do so again this year. Some of you may have lost a father or a brother or a fiancé either in the second world war or in one of the many wars around the world. It is important that we remember and give thanks for their life and the lives of others who died.
This year we also pause to remember those who have died in a different kind of war. We remember the elderly being treated in hospital for Covid-19 and returned to their nursing home to die. We remember all those who have died. We remember doctors and nurses and key workers who all the way through have responded to the needs of others by putting themselves at risk. We remember the scientists working so hard and often for such long hours to develop a vaccine. And we remember the Prime Minister and all those in government faced with what must seem impossible choices.
We remember and give thanks for the assurance that in this life and the next we are held in the presence of the Lord. Raised and set free. Amen.
Lord, we come this day to remember and learn to remember the lessons of the past: the cost of war, the extent of human self sacrifice. Remind us of all we owe, in case we forget.
Help us to learn those lessons to live and work for peace, to fight only what is evil and corrupt,
to serve and not to count the cost, to give our all in the cause of a better world.
Remind us of all we owe, in case we forget.
Almighty God, we come to remember all you have done your creative acts, your mighty deeds throughout history, your dealings with your people, your gift of Christ, your love experienced daily in our lives. Remind us of all we owe, in case we forget.
Forgive us that so often and so easily we do forget.
We fail to remember your sovereign transforming power, to count our many blessings, to recognise your hand at work in our lives.
Almighty God, through all things you remember us – help us to remember you!
Remind us of all we owe, in case we forget. We ask it in the name of Christ. Amen.
O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home:
under the shadow of thy throne
thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defence is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame;
from everlasting thou art God,
to endless years the same.
A thousand ages in thy sight
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all our years away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.
Our God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be thou our guard while troubles last,
and our eternal home.
Know that God is with you, has always been with you, and will always be with you; and so receive the unfailing blessing of Father, Son and Holy Spirit now and forever more. Amen.