Hope in time of remembrance

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Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?

Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?..

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans chapter 8 v 35,37-39)

The custom of Remembrance, which began nearly 100 years ago at the end of the First World War has become a hugely significant time in our nation over the succeeding decades, as it has become clear that, far from ending all wars, it was the fore-runner to many other conflicts. We live in a world which looks less able to live in peace than ever before.

We remember with gratitude and humility the deliverance which our land and many others obtained, and the willingness of so many to go to war in order to protect our freedom, and to deliver others from oppression.

We remember with grief the price which was, and is being paid in deaths, in broken bodies and minds, and in families fractured by loss.

We remember with shame that war breaks out because of the darkness at the core of all human hearts which causes us to enter into conflict at every level of our lives.

We remember the truth revealed in the bible narrative, that while we inhabit this world, these bodies, we will have trouble. There is no lasting solution ahead for humanity, because the human heart is of itself incorrigibly wicked, and no amount of ‘education’ or ‘progress’ is going to change that.

We do no one any favours if we buy into the myth that peace can ever be a lasting reality for the world if we would only work hard enough for it.

Instead, we remember that because of the radical work of God through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have real hope for a peaceful future based on the transformation of the human heart. We have seen that God can make us new – Jesus went ahead to show the way – and that in dwelling in our hearts by faith, He is already at work to transform lives all over the world. One day, all things will be made new, in a way we cannot begin to imagine, and all war and sorrow will cease, because sin, that brokenness in us, will be gone forever.

So while we grieve for all the pain of ongoing conflicts, we also pray into the situations and work with all our strength to bring the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of those affected.

We have a sure and certain hope that God is working, that nothing can ultimately separate Him from those who love and trust in His son. The hymn-writer, William Walsham How gives a lovely picture of the way that this hope inspires God’s people, in the hymn “For all the saints who from their labours rest”, and I share it here to encourage us all in the days ahead.

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave again and arms are strong. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

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