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Psalms 77:1-15 NIVUK

1 I cried out to God for help;I cried out to God to hear me. 2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;at night I stretched out untiring hands,and I would not be comforted. 3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. 4 You kept my eyes from closing;I was too troubled to speak. 5 I thought about the former days,the years of long ago; 6 I remembered my songs in the night.My heart meditated and my spirit asked: 7 ‘Will the Lord reject for ever?Will he never show his favour again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished for ever?Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?Has he in anger withheld his compassion?’ 10 Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal:the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your worksand meditate on all your mighty deeds.’ 13 Your ways, God, are holy.What god is as great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles;you display your power among the peoples. 15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.


Even a cursory look in the bible you will see that it has a lot to say about remembering. A quick search I did brought up 144 verses in 43 books remember/remembering.

And forgetfulness is in one moment funny and endearing. How many of us of a certain age haven’t had the experience of standing in the middle of a room going “why did I come in here?”. Or wondered where this or that was only to find it is in your pocket/handbag or in the case of glasses on your head. I once thought I had lost a mobile phone only to find it in the pocket of a coat 3 Years later. I believe they are called senior moments. There is a very funny spoof by Pam Peterson along those lines to the tune of Memories I recommend googling it.

We all know that memory is fickle and often hard to maintain. In our Google age, the smartphone has become a memory substitute. Come on, admit it. Who here hasn’t been part of some conversation when you’ve googled the forgotten words of a song, what actor played whatever role, or what the unremembered score was in some famous match? Memory across generations is always problematic. Sometimes it’s flawed and even children and grandchildren can’t remember some stuff. Although I often think that’s selective memory, not a brain freeze event.

Although these moments of forgetfulness are mainly harmless in another sense they can be dangerous. Forgetting the green cross code (again only those of a certain age will remember this) can have fatal consequences. And many of us will know the quote from George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

How much more so when the memory is stretched across four or five generations? We pause today in remembrance of the guns falling silent over one hundred years ago. We try to know what that meant to the generations now being lost to us. The bells of peace peeled out. And we need imagination to recover what a relief that truly was.


‘Some of them have left behind a name,’. And naming was a way of dealing with the horrors of the loss. Within a very few years every community had a war memorial that named those who had been killed. Looking now at the huge versions, like those in the battlefields of Flanders, we weep at the enormity of the loss involved. Though sometimes it’s the small ones that really bring it home. My previous church was in a village that had a very small population at the start of hostilities; and suffered huge losses. 4 brothers from one family. Every one of those named on the church plaque, well-known, now, to the older members of the community, but even they are being lost to time.

The names cannot be ‘just names’, we strive to recover a sense of who they were. And we forget that in their labour, in their relationships, even in their school days, they were just like us. If you have a family connection to one of those names, then perhaps a faded photo or an old watch and chain will help make the connection. If not, then our own awareness of our own life will help us assert the value of each life named. Each life known for more than the loss.

One way to bring to mind the lives is to remember the names.


Less than a fortnight after the guns ceased, Lloyd George, then Prime Minister, said, ‘What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in. I am not using the word “heroes” in any spirit of boastfulness, but in the spirit of humble recognition of a fact. I cannot think what these men have gone through. Very few of us have been there at the door of the furnace and witnessed it, so cannot tell.

‘Furnace’ was an apt description – it seemed that so many had been reduced to nothing more than fuel to a consuming fire that could never be controlled. Looking back, we may be tempted to consign our Armistice thoughts to the listing horrors in more than a century full of horrors. Today we shine a light in the darkness of what had happened and assert that not one of those lost fell unperceived by God. We remember and name them personally because of the cruel fate that denied them their future lives. In the words of Matthew chapter 10 they were “So much more valued than sparrows,” despite the fatal circumstances.

Kate Luard was a nursing sister who served through the whole war. Awarded the Royal Red Cross and bar, she wrote home every day, and this is from one of her letters written in a front-line casualty station:

‘I feel dazed going round the rows of silent or groaning wrecks. Many die and their beds are filled instantly. One has got so used to their dying that it conveys no impression beyond a vague sense of medical failure. You forget entirely that they were once civilians, that they were alive and well yesterday, that they have wives and mothers and fathers and children; all you realise is that they are dead soldiers and that there are thousands of others.’

But it ended. Armistice: we rejoice that at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns were silenced. The furnace was finally extinguished, thank God. ‘Remember what you will – But remember.’

Remembered God

In the psalm we heard earlier the Psalmist recites that he will “ remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” In the midst of His most desperate time he remembers all that God has done in a sure hope that He is still there and still in action. And there were so many who in the midst of the mud and the missiles held tight to this very same hope. Remembering God in action and His Promise of hope

I have always marvelled and if I’m honest sometimes been a little sceptical of those who in what can only be described as horrendous circumstances, have held to that very same promise and looked as if hope is real. Do you know what I mean? They always look at peace. You might think “hang on you are a minister surely you don’t mean that?” “You’re meant to encourage us to hope” Well yes but I am also human and just as you do I forget what God has done at times. I have wondered where God is in times when it has been difficult, have had to remind myself of Him and His promises in Jesus Christ, because it has been so difficult. Without those times the hope is not real. The hope is never substantial enough to uphold us.

Recognising our Forgetfulness, naming and remembering those who have given so much helps us to, not to come to terms with what happened, because it is too enormous to accept that, but it does keep the same hope they had, alive in us and reignites the desire to be better than we are. Remembering that above all of this God in Jesus Christ is to be remembered by us as they remebered at times, for being the one who can help us hope above and beyond what we experience.

As it is a very different remembrance service this year we end with the last post, two minutes silence and reveille and before that we will hear words so familiar and memorable.

As it is a very different remembrance service this year we end with the last post, two minutes silence and reveille and before that we will hear words so familiar and memorable.

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning,
we will remember them.

We will remember them.

Ever-living God
we remember those whom you have
from the storm of war into the peace of
your presence;
may that same peace
calm our fears,
bring justice to all peoples
and establish harmony among the nations,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.