Remembrance 2023

Remembrance 2023

Mark 13:24-32 & Daniel 12:1-3

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen, please sit

Today, as I know you’re all aware is Remembrance Sunday. Our readings are dark, they are dour – There’s not a great deal of hope in them.

And in one sense, you may think that’s odd. Surely at this time, when we remember the darkness of war, we should be looking for light and hope. 

And of course, the Gospel is full of light and hope.

But no, today, we’re offered these readings. We’re hearing the darkness of Scripture, the darkness of our own existence. 

And of course, that’s what war is. War is the darkness of humanity. It is the absence of God’s love and light in the world.

When I stand here and I preach, in joy and hope and love, and I say, love one another, find out what it is that God is calling you to do. All of these things are about dismissing darkness from the world. But today that darkness is held for us in sharp focus.

Daniel, our first reading, here is a man of extraordinary faith in darkness, writing at a time when the Jews were exiled, when they were living under foreign rule, when even the very act of praying was something that got you arrested. What they did to Daniel was Machiavellian in it’s outworking, it was planned, it was deliberate. 

People of God were looked at by people of a different faith and went, hang on a minute. They’ve got something right here. They’re doing really well, right. Let’s stop that before it takes off.

We’ve seen that throughout history. One group of people attacking another group of people and justifying it nefariously. 

Daniel was colluded against by officials who were very jealous of him, who were very jealous of this immigrant that had come in and was doing well. And they colluded to make rules to push this immigrant down. 

Who did he think he was?

But in that darkness, in the depths of despair, he kept his faith. He kept his faith in God. And that tiny light burned in his heart. 

And so when the worst was thrown at him, he could see that flicker of light in the darkness.

He knew that everything would be okay. Even when he was in that den surrendered by Lions, he knew that he would be okay.

Our gospel – in its darkens – also contains that light. Jesus is telling us about the end of time, when our sins will be weighed, when we will stand before God. 

Who among us is not frightened of that time, of that moment when we stand before God with our lives fully on show, who amongst us isn’t frightened of that moment of judgement.

And so we should be.

We should be frightened of that moment.

We should be concerned about standing in front of our awesome God with the darkness that we have poured into the world on show.

Today we are called to remember that darkness, to name that darkness, to hold that darkness out and say no more. 

Say no more. Because I do not want to stand before my God at the end of time and account for that darkness. I want to stand before my God at the end of time and say, ‘Here is the light I poured into the world’.

And if more of us could remember that if more of us could keep hold of that, then perhaps war would be a thing of the past. If more of us could keep hold of that fear of God and his judgement of us, perhaps there would be less war in the world.

So today I preach darkness. I hold it before you in the hope that it brings you up short in the hope that it makes you examine your life and imagine what it will be like when you are stood before the Lord, your God. And I ask you to pray for your friends and for your family, and I ask you to put this moment in front of them as well.

I ask you to hold them before God that he may drive away all darkness in their lives.