Sunday 13 November 2022 Remembrance Sunday
Warrior Peacemakers and Women of Substance
Matthew 5:1-12, Esther 4:16, Hebrews 13:8
Context: an open, station-based, non-eucharistic service for both military and non-military personnel. Open to all the gathering may include people of all faiths or none
Aim: to motivate and inspire whilst considering the notion of Warrior Peacemaker within The Beatitudes
The Beatitudes cause a stir, and rightly so. Here, the reader is witness to the humble being lifted high and the mighty laid low. Perhaps, for the first time, those despairing of living in such days have hope for the future and renewed positivity; something we all need in these uncertain times.
‘Blessed are you pure of heart, poor, broken, sad, bereaved or wrongly accused. You who are meek, persecuted, and hungry are of worth and value. Blessed are you all indeed. You are blessed for showing mercy and for wanting peace and righteousness.’
Real words, real hope spoken in clear, easy-to-understand language. No theological mumbo jumbo, just plain, refreshing speech which connects with the multitude. It connected then and connects with us now, as we look at the world around us.
SCIENCE FICTION AND WONDER WOMEN
I’m sometimes told that folk leave faith and church because they feel it has nothing to offer in this conflict-torn world. This is not true. There is much we can offer an ever-changing society which is hurting and damaged by COVID, wars and rumours of wars. Amidst such times, the teachings of Christ stand firm. The simple truth of the Beatitudes speaks volumes and focuses our attention on those who otherwise go unheard or are deliberately ignored. There is a need for brave, ‘Warrior Peacemakers’ to speak truth to power now as then. Those who will boldly go (to steal a sci-fi reference) boldly, yet humbly into scary or unchartered territory where no one has gone before.
Certainly, God’s choice of Warrior Peacemaker may not be what we expect - rather like those ‘undesirables’ mentioned in the Beatitudes. I think of biblical women who, by nature of their sex, were often ignored or overlooked but defied convention nonetheless. Deborah, for example, was a warrior prophet. Naomi and Ruth’s unbreakable bond amidst adversity led to greater blessing. Mary Magdalene was entrusted with the history-defining, resurrection message. And then, there is the wonderful story of Esther, who, on being told that she had come ‘for such a time as this,’ risks everything to save a nation. Going, uninvited into the Monarch’s presence, bravely placing service before self she states: ‘I will go to the King and If I die, I die.’ A warrior indeed.
Within my context of The Royal Air Force, the motto displayed and embraced by all chaplains is ‘Ministrare non Ministrari’, which means to serve and not be served. It is therefore awe-inspiring to read of biblical women influencers who challenged and took risks during a time when holding any sort of metaphorical baton was not allowed.
Today, being a Christian can be a challenge. Some of us operate in a theatre of risk with recent global developments raising the stakes.
Within the military context, Christians are constantly faced with specific, often complex situations. At this time of year, and on Remembrance Sunday in particular, things get painfully poignant as we remember those who have gone before, who have given of themselves and sacrificed much. Indeed, many have paid the ultimate price whilst serving Queen and country. There is often a rude awakening for Christ-followers when faith, duty and context collide so brutally.
In remembering it is understandable and right that we grieve, but we should not be dismayed and that is the difference. However small, lowly, or insignificant we feel, we should draw from the Beatitudes. The affirmations found there and the knowledge that we are fearfully and wonderfully made is a call to be encouraged. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and we have a part to play irrespective of our context, irrespective of whether we feel worthy of the task.
We should perhaps look to our warrior women of the past and this Remembrance ask what their service means today. What does it say to us?
Esther spoke, and a nation was saved. Ruth remained and became the ancestor of the Messiah. Mary Magdalene cried ‘He is alive’ and a cosmic revolution began. These stories challenge and excite. The humble, being raised, the mighty laid low, unexpected advocates arising in order to bring forth God’s kingdom on earth.
For the Christian, the call of Christ is not boring. He can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. It is a journey and an adventure. I wonder what your journey is and what you and I can do through him. Indeed, I’m humbled when I consider what our own, personal, and specific witness will be. The truth and challenge of the Beatitudes remain relevant for the twenty-first Century. We are all called to be Warriors of our time and each in our own way.
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