Today, 100 years ago, the battle of the Somme was still raging (in fact there were still five days to go before the whistles sounded to end it!) and I am led to recall the words of a letter sent home from that conflict in which the writer speaks of the 'end of the age' - and yet as surely as Malachi acknowledges that this day will come so too does Jesus point to the fact that these are but signs, birth pangs (contractions) of that day when Jesus returns. A day many expect and yet will bot be ready for!
So today as we look at mankind's ability to create disorder and bring destruction let's look also to the coming of one man, Jesus - the Christ - to reconcile us to God and to His return and the day when war will be no more.
Today we will think of the peace, uneasy and fragile - broken and lightly held, of the world and as we bemoan the state of the world, perhaps we recognise the reality that it is us, by our actions, thoughts and prayers who hold the prospect and maintenance of peace in our hands?
Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Salvation and reconciliation to God - which is ours for free because Jesus, the Christ, paid the price.
Peace in Europe - came about because men and women in the 1939 - 1945 conflict were willing to lay their lives on the line to protect people groups (Jews, Romanies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Communist, homosexuals and others). People who were not like them; they might have even been antagonistic towards them and yet the desire to oppose evil was greater than their own opinion. In them are made try the words: "Great love has no one than to lay down their life for another!"
People really gave up their 'today' so that we might have a 'tomorrow' - Jesus gave up His life that we might have be reconciled to God have have eternity with Him.
A TAKE AWAY THOUGHT
The next time you take Communion remember that especially in the consuming of bread and wine there is no such thing as a free lunch - someone always pays for it!
See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
2 Thessalonians 3.6-13
Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’
They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.
‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Post Communion Prayer
God of peace, whose Son Jesus Christ proclaimed the kingdom and restored the broken to wholeness of life: look with compassion on the anguish of the world, and by your healing power make whole both people and nations; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Recently I found myself faced with someone who missed the point of this great hymn. Listen to it and read the words of it and make the journey it offers - not an act of jingoism or triumphal posturing, but an opportunity to follow the footsteps of the one who won the ultimate victory and made the supreme sacrifice.