Lest We Forget 

This Sunday is known as Remembrance Sunday. It falls this year just before the 11th of November.

2 days when we stop - albeit briefly - to remember.

To remember those who fell in war.

To remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

To remember the price that was paid for the freedoms we enjoy.

In 1897 Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called 'Recessional.' Kipling wrote:

God of our fathers known of old
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine
Lord God of hosts be with us yet
Lest we forget - Lest we forget

Kipling warned us of the dangers of failing to remember.

How should we feel when we stop to remember?

Sad?

Solemn?

Grateful?

Humbled?

Remembrance events remind me of times when we - as Christians - gather round a table. On that table we'll find a simple plate with a loaf of bread on it. Sitting beside it will be a cup - or little glasses - containing some red wine.

We regularly gather round this table to remind ourselves of the death of Jesus. His body broken and his blood poured out so that our sins can be forgiven.

Jesus said to us: do this in remembrance of me

At the heart of Christianity lies this awful event - an event that brought us tremendous freedom.

The cross is our sign of hope - sin forgiven and death defeated.

I'll never forget my first trip to the battlefields of Normandy. There on a grey December morning we stood in the American cemetery and looked out over row after row of neatly planted white stone crosses.  Death on such a scale is hard to accept. It makes us want to rebel and declare that there must be a better way.

Each cross a sign of death. Each cross a reminder of  hope.

Lest we forget.






 

Keith Wilson, 07/11/2019

The Cost of Discipleship 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Pastor who was determined to follow Jesus. Bonhoeffer lived at a time when the pressure to conform was immense. It was Bonhoeffer's determination to follow Jesus that led to him being arrested and held at Flossenburg concentration camp.  He would die there in April 1945 just weeks before the end of the war.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classic work  'The Cost of Discipleship' was first published in Germany in 1937.  The opening words of the book are 'cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.'

Costly grace.

Jesus had a group of close followers called disciples.

When we read about how Jesus gathered these disciples we're not given much detail.

There were no advertisements with a job description attached.

Those applying were sought out and didn't have to provide their latest CV.

As far as we know no one really had any experience for the tasks that lay ahead - how could they?

And all Jesus said to get them onboard was this: Come, follow me.

Costly grace.

Discipleship wasn't going to be easy.

There's a cost to following Jesus. Difficult decisions to make. Tough choices about which way to turn.

Yet those who followed Jesus knew this - there was no one else they'd rather spend their lives with.

Jesus was the one they were made to be with.

Today Jesus still wants disciples. 

Anyone can apply.

No CV required. No experience or skills necessary.

All we have to do is respond positively to this simple statement from Jesus: Come, follow me.
 

Keith Wilson, 09/10/2019

The Scandal 

 Did they really do that? Well I never!

There are plenty of scandals to raise our eyebrows or make us gasp in mock horror.

So how about another?

God came to us as one of us

The Bible states it like this: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

God came to us as one of us.

It's an idea central to what we believe as Christians.

Theologians call this 'the scandal of particularity.'

A scandal?

God became human.

A particular, specific human. 

God became this and not that.

God became a Jew and not a Gentile.

God became an Israelite and not a European.

God became a poor person and not a rich person.

God became a first-century person and not a twenty-first century person.

As we read more about this particular Jesus we discover not only how he came to earth - but why.

Jesus would one day die so our sins could be forgiven.

And then on the third day - Jesus would come back to life.

Jesus was both God's messenger and God's message.

The message of Jesus can apply to any person of any time and any place. 

But the Gospel message is rooted in a specific person, at a specific time in a specific place.

There is no Gospel without this historical  Jesus.

The Jesus who was born, lived and died in a particular place at a particular time.

The same Jesus who was resurrected and will one day return.

We might still find it scandalous that God chose to send Jesus the way He did. 

But there's a bigger scandal - the scandal of forgiveness. Thanks to Jesus the guilty get to go free.

And there's - gasp with horror - an even bigger scandal than that!

Jesus came to offer that forgiveness to particular people.

Who live in a particular place. At a particular time.

That's you and me. And to us today Jesus says simply: Come, follow me.

 

Keith Wilson, 29/09/2019