Lest We Forget the Love and the Sacrifice

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Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith’

© November 5, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin November 5, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                            

Opening Hymn #288: Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me                                                   

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings               

Responsive Reading #624: The Great Commission                                                                                                   (-from Matthew 28, Luke 24, Acts 1, and Mark 16)                 

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                               ‘Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith’

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service in the heart of Toronto, at BLCF. This Saturday is Remembrance Day, where at the 11th hour of the 11th day of 11th month we will take a moment of silence and reflection to honor the sacrifice of those men and women who fought to give us the gifts of democracy and freedom in Canada.

While the sacrifice of brave soldiers gave us a period of peace and freedom, the ‘war to end all wars’ has been followed by other wars and conflicts, demonstrating that the rewards of these battles are fleeting at best. While a war may end a conflict, the sinful nature of humanity is such we have but a brief reprieve from the next conflict we find ourselves involved in. Unfortunately, it seems that eventually in time another conflict comes along, and we are called again to defend the freedom and principles that we hold so dearly.

Our lesson today, entitled ‘Following the Lord and Keeping His Grace by Love and Faith’,  we will look at a different type of sacrifice made on our behalf, by Christ Jesus, to rid ourselves permanently of the death penalty, which is humanity’s judgment for sin. We will examine an example how the account of Peter’s denial of the Lord demonstrates the Lord’s promise that he will never leave or forsake us, sometimes in spite of ourselves.

Let us look at how fear and the instinct for self-preservation can cause us to act quite contrary to the way we think we would, under certain circumstances where our own health and safety are threatened, as was the case with the disciple, Peter, in Matthew 26:31-35 (ESV):

31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Though Peter is quite adamant about his loyalty to the Lord, fear can displace the courage of his convictions, Matthew 26:69-75 (ESV):

Peter Denies Jesus

 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

It is interesting that Jesus knew that Peter, the disciple who Jesus had described as the rock upon which he would build his church, would deny Christ three times. The denials would occur immediately after Jesus had instructed the disciples in the practice of communion, an observance that was to be maintained after his crucifixion, until the day he returned from heaven. Though Peter’s denials threatened the establishment of the church with the cloud of sin, it appeared that Jesus would give the disciple an opportunity to atone and reconcile with the Lord,  at a future time.

Fortunately, the Lord knows the true nature of our hearts, and Jesus’ capacity to grant us unconditional love and forgiveness, when he died for our sins on the cross. God has a plan for us, and He will not allow our fears and doubts to dissuade us from achieving His intended goal. Though the disciples’ fear had caused them to lock themselves in the Upper Room, Jesus returned to bring them the Peace of the Spirit and hope, so that they may have the courage to undertake the Great Commission of bringing the truth of the Gospel of Christ to the world, as we see in John 20:19-29 (ESV):

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Jesus and Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,[b] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time b. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

It should be noted that while Peter displays fear by his denial of any knowledge of Christ, all of the disciples show a similar fear by locking themselves in the Upper Room.

While the disciples are visited by their Lord, now resurrected, and have received the Holy Spirit from Jesus, Thomas, who was absent from the Upper Room when Jesus first visited, refuses to believe the testimony of his fellow disciples. Eight days later, the Lord returns to restore Thomas with the same peace and belief in seeing his Jesus resurrected, bearing the marks of his crucifixion.

Jesus revealed that he knew of his impending death and predicted that Peter would three times deny knowing the Lord would fulfill the prophecy found in Zechariah 13:7 (ESV):

The Shepherd Struck

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
    against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the Lord of hosts.

“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
    I will turn my hand against the little ones.

Jesus spoke to Peter, (in Matthew 26:31-35), of his pending betrayal, death, and resurrection, Peter wept bitterly, no doubt guilty and ashamed at his inability to stand at the side of his Lord on the evening of his arrest. By using  some table fellowship, Jesus wanted to give Peter the opportunity to confess and be forgiven of his denial of  having known Jesus, as described in John 21:4-19 (ESV):

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Footnotes: a. John 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

When Peter heard that Jesus had arrived to visit the disciples for a third time since his resurrection, the disciple threw himself into the sea, an indication of the disciple’s guilt and shame.

The Lord  demonstrates his love for Peter, by asking the disciple three times whether or not he has love for Jesus, one for each of the three times Peter had denied Christ. Peter responds three times to Jesus by confessing his love for the Lord. It is after hearing the third acknowledgement from Peter, that Jesus indicates all is forgiven, by telling Peter the nature of the disciple’s death, which would be to the glory of God. The Lord then instructs the disciple to follow him. Peter is now ready to resume the role of being the rock of Christ’s Church, which will come on the Day of Pentecost, along with the arrival of God’s Holy Spirit to the faithful assembled in the Upper Room.

Jesus who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, knew Peter would deny him, but the Lord gave the disciple the prediction immediately after instructing the disciples on the significance of the observance of Communion. Not only did the Lord know Peter, who was to be the foundation rock of the Church, Jesus knew the disciple would show contrition by acknowledging his love for Jesus three times.

We see that at Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples, Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me”, once for each time Peter had denied the Lord, to which the disciple replied, “Yes”. And after the affirmations Jesus spoke, “Feed my lambs” after the first; “tend my sheep” after the second; and “feed my sheep” after my sheep” after the third, indicating that Peter was forgiven and reinstated to assume the responsibilities of rock of Christ’s church, who Jesus describes as lambs or sheep. Peter is to tend or take care of and feed with The Word, the body of believers, whereby the Lord concludes by instructing the disciple to “follow me’”

After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared three times to the disciples, each for a specific reason. The first was a proof of his resurrection and to restore peace to the ten disciples locked in the Upper Room. The second was to revisit the locked Upper Room in order to restore faith of Thomas. And the third visit was to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to Peter. Truly, Jesus will never leave of forsake us!

Let us pray…

Communion – Matthew 26:30-35 (-see Lord’s Supper, below)

Matthew 26:26-35 (ESV) Institution of the Lord’s Supper

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Closing Hymn #180: Jesus Is Coming to Earth Again

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:23-24):

Peace be to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

The Sign of the Poppy and of the Cross

BLCF: cross and poppy

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Sign of the Poppy and of the Cross’

© November 9, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin Nov 9, 2014

stories_of_remembrance_header

Announcements and Call to Worship – Reading of – In Flanders Fields; Prayer

Reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ – By Lt. Colonel John McCrae, Canadian Army

flanders_fields

 

Opening Hymn #1: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty; Choruses

Scriptures: John 8:1-11, Luke 4:1-13, Luke 23:32-43 

Prayer and Tithing – Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Brief Message by Steve Mickelson: The Sign of the Poppy and of the Cross

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF, for our annual meeting, where we will review the year in activities in BLCF. But, first as Remembrance Day will occur the day after tomorrow, I would like to begin today’s lesson by sharing with a few observations about the sacrifice of our Lord and that of soldiers in the Great War and subsequent conflicts.

It was just a few short weeks ago, in an act of domestic terrorism, an unarmed Canadian army reservist Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot dead  as he stood guard at the National War Memorial. This brought a flood of reaction, mostly patriotic and supportive, specifically to Corporal Cirillo and his family and to Canadian soldiers, in general.

 

BLCF: lest_we_forget

The National War Memorial

Perhaps more disturbing were other comments by some ranging from “what do you expect when Canada makes war on Isis or Muslims” to “Cirillo was only a reservist who was not in a combat zone and therefore did not deserve a hero’s funeral.”

Really!

I suppose the victims of the World Trade Center’s attack on 9-11-2001 deserve to be ignored as well, since New York City is not a war zone and most of those who died were non-combatants! Perhaps the cynics are unaware that most of the soldiers who died in the Great War, (aka World War I), died not in battle but from the effects of the Spanish Flu Pandemic, including the author of the poem In Flanders Fields, Lt. Colonel John McCrae. And in his poem, McCrae did take some liberty in his prose, as the graves were marked not just with crosses, row on row, but headstones in that war and subsequent battles bear the inscriptions and the markings of soldiers bore markings indicating a variety of faiths and creeds, including Jewish, Chinese and Hindu.

09042013064738

 

But this war, just like any other had moments of grace, such as occurred on Christmas 1914:

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE

BLCF: christmastrucespartacus

Perhaps no term better captures the horror of World War I than that of No Man’s Land, the forbidden turf   between the opposing trenches.  In both myth and reality, it became a space in-between that was associated with the journeys from sanity to madness and from life to death.  A place of churning soil, singing bullets and suspended time, it exposed human vulnerability in the Machine Age.

On December 25, 1914, however, No Man’s Land was briefly transformed into a meeting-ground for erstwhile foes.  German troops, used to celebrating Christmas on the evening of the 24th, had smuggled Tannenbaum trees into the trenches and serenaded their British counterparts with “Stille Nacht.”  The next day, thousands of troops exchanged photographs and souvenirs; shared bully beef, cigarettes, jam, sausages, chocolate and alcohol; and engaged in other activities.  In a few places, soldiers who had been barbers in civilian life offered free haircuts to those on the other side.  A German juggler gave an impromptu performance.  There are accounts of soccer scrimmages, including one in which Saxons laughed uproariously when gusts of wind revealed that their Scottish opponents were clothed in their kilts alone, and one in which the ball deflated after catching on barbed wire.  There was even a joint memorial service with the bilingual saying of the 23rd Psalm as a prelude to the burial of those who had fallen earlier in No Man’s Land.

Accounts of the significance of the Christmas Truce differ.  British soldier and war cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather described it as “just like the interval between rounds in a friendly boxing match.”  For Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, a father who lost his son to the fighting, the truce was “one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of the war.”  For a particular Austrian soldier billeted near the front lines, it was an abomination that “should not be allowed.”  His name: Adolf Hitler.  In succeeding years, artillery bombardments were ordered by commanding officers on Christmas Eve.

http://www.misterdann.com/mildischristmastruce.htm

BLCF: football

The amazing aspect of this truce in 1914 was that the two opposing armies took time to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, to play together soccer and even to exchange gifts. It is too bad that those who see war as the only response to a disagreement cannot learn from this event. Ironically the commanders for both sides did not allow such an amicable truce to take place in subsequent Christmases.

Even though there will be a day of reckoning, our Lord came to the world to put an end to sin and judgment, rather than an end  to sinners, as we see in our first Scripture passage, John 8:1-11 (ESV):

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

BLCF: Cast-first-stone

Jesus was able to persuade this angry mob not to stone to death a women by pointing out that giving such a punishment should only be reserved whoever is “without sin”, who technically would be Jesus, alone. But them Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more”, which parallels the reason that the Lord came to the world, which is to provide a way for us to avoid the judgment of death for our sins, as long as we confess our sins and endeavor to not sin, and to follow the Way of the Lord. And as followers of Christ, we must endeavour to “go, and from now on sin no more.”

But as soon as the Holy Spirit fell upon him, Christ was also tempted by the devil to sin against the Father in Heaven , as we see in our next Scripture passage, Luke 4:1-13 (ESV):

The Temptation of Jesus

4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,     and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you, 

to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,     

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

 BLCF: temptation-of-Christ

We see that Jesus did not give in to temptation from the devil, but we see that Satan planned to tempt the Lord again at an “opportune  time,”  which I believe came while Christ was suffering his own crucifixion, as we see in Luke 23:32-43 (ESV):

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him,[b] “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[c] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do b. Luke 23:38 Some manuscripts add in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew c. Luke 23:39 Or blasphemed him

BLCF: angeldevilonthehoulders1 

This brings to mind the old film portrayal, where a person has a little devil standing on one shoulder whispering temptation into one ear, while a small angel stands on the other shoulder whispering restraint in the other. In this Scripture verse, one of the criminals exhorted to Jesus to give into the temptation to save himself and the others crucified beside him gives a remark not too different to what Satan said on the precipice in Luke 4:9-11 (ESV):

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’

In Luke 23:39, we see another tempting exhortation, where the Lord is urged to save himself. Again the Lord resisted the temptation in order to take upon himself our collective punishment for our sins, so that we will not die from sin:

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Jesus_and_the_thieves_on_the_cross

One criminal wants the Lord to save him and the other criminal asks for forgiveness. By his death, Jesus brought both to those who confess and believe. No one else needed to suffer God’s judgement for their sins or fear death, for eternal life and the God’s Holy Spirit is given.

We should note that at the very  beginning and the very end of the Lord’s ministry is framed by temptation by the devil. In both instances, Christ resisted temptation. As followers of Christ, we may anticipate that the devil will try to tempt us away from God’s grace, just as he had tempted the Lord. Let us remember the sacrifice of Christ and preserve his gift of salvation.

On this Remembrance Day, we acknowledge the sacrifice made on our behalf, by the soldiers whose death in that war may have saved us and others. But in time, history records other wars and conflicts which come, where others to give their lives for our freedom and way of life. Unfortunately no war, not even the Great War, is the final conflict; the war to end all wars. As long as hate and conflict exist, other wars and conflicts will come, and still the cause of these conflicts, which is sin, remains.

But take heart, the battle over sin is already won. Jesus is the victor and there no longer needs to be another sacrifice made for our sins. Jesus made the final sacrifice. All we need is to accept Christ’s sacrifice and accept him as our Lord and Saviour.

This Remembrance Day, may we honour the sacrifice made by others on our behalf by wearing a Poppy over our heats, being mindful that while the war ended, it did not put an end to wars in the future. At the same time, let us walk the righteous path of believers in Christ and honour the Lord’s sacrifice which put an end to the judgment from sin and gave us the final and complete  victory over death.

Let us pray…

Luncheon Served: Prayer (Grace):

Dear Lord, thank you for this food.                                                                                                                                                       

Bless the hands that prepared it.                                                                                                                                                        

Bless it to our use and to your service.                                                                                                                                              

And make us ever mindful of the needs of others.  

Through Christ our Lord we pray.                                                                                                                                 

 – Amen

Presentation of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Annual Report for 2013 by BLCF Board

Closing Prayer and Benediction

Let us pray…

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:24):

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

BLCF: Jesus-Picture-On-The-Cross-It-Is-Finished-Crucifixion

The Poppy and the Cross: Remembering the Sacrifice

BLCF: Cross and Poppy

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘’The Poppy and the Cross: Remembering the Sacrifice’  

©November 10, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Church Bulletin-Program November 10, 2013

 

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #632 (God’s Redeeming Love – John 3 and 1 John 4r of Prayer); Prayer                                              

  Opening Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride

Let us pray…

Tomorrow is November 11, Remembrance Day. A day where most Canadians wear a poppy on their lapel; possibly recite the poem In Flanders Fields; and then at 11AM, observe a moment of silence. For many of us who had a relative or friend who experienced war firsthand, Remembrance Day is a time to acknowledge the sacrifice of men and women who served their country at wartime, including the millions who never survived to celebrate the peace. The phrase lest we forget is spoken, to which the reply is made they will not be forgotten. At the back of this very sanctuary, we have a plaque commemorating the names of those from this church who served in the Second World War.

I read a posting reprinted from a BLOG in the Huffington Post, where a young lady even though her grandfather served in the RCAF in WWII, wrote an article listing the reasons why she refused to wear a poppy on November 11. Some of the reasons for refusing the poppy included: that it was a symbol that glorifies war or that it illustrates how politicians yield to public demands that they wear this blood red symbol of battle.

The article describes how the poppy worn is not a real flower, but a commercially manufactured item, made for corporate profit. In her rant she complains of a message from a Canadian Legion urging to wait to put up Christmas decorations until after November 11. And the author speculates that if Canada were defeated by the Nazi’s that we would still celebrate Christmas, seemingly to imply that Christ, the Prince of Peace, was really a Lord of War that condoned war! There is no mention of instead of honoring many who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms often take for granted.

My father, Harry Mickelson, served in WWII as a medic and military band member. He preferred to recall the funny incidents of the war. But between enlisting in the Rainbow Division of the 42nd Infantry of the US Army reserves in December 1940, then being called to active duty by executive action of FDR in January 1941 in anticipation of USA being drawn to the war, crossing through the battlefields across France and Germany, ending in Austria by 1945, Dad’s remembrance of the horror of war was relegated, according to Mom, to the nightmares he had for years after he married 1946.

Dad had little use for the John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and the host of other actors who glorified a war that they never saw or experienced firsthand. He cared not to join Legion Halls to relive events, though necessary, were often filled with grief and pain. Though Dad did step forward to testify at the trial of Ernst Zündel, who taught that the Holocaust never happened, providing an eyewitness account of the Dachau Concentration Camp as a first responder, along with photo evidence of the camp. It was for this reason he wore a poppy, so not to forget, then ignore, and ultimately deny the real importance of the sacrifice given and end up in idle speculation whether or not a Nazi victory would end Christmas in Canada!

I read a recent statistic that there currently around 3.2 million surviving veterans from World War II, who are passing away at a rate of around 1,100 per day. Soon there will be no witnesses left to refute the claims those who deny the Holocaust or correct those intent in twisting the events of the war. And unfortunately the sacrifices of those solders and the victims of war may evolve to whether we wear a red poppy or white poppy, to sanitize the events and eventually open the way to new despots and new horrific conflicts in a cycle repeated again and again.

In Christian circles, there are movements to sanitize worship, to remove the cross as it is a symbol of the brutality of the crucifixion of Jesus. Yet, as Christians, we are expected to serve the elements of communion to remember the blood and body of Christ given as a sacrifice for all our sins.

We often here in memorial services for those who gave their life in war, a quote from John 15:13 (ESV):

 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

But such a quote seems to imply that the Lord approved of war. However, let us read this verse in its full context: John 15:12-17 (ESV):

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.      13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.                                                 

Footnotes: a. John 15:15 Greek bondservants b. John 15:15 Greek bondservant; also verse 20

And what does the Lord say about conflict in general? We may find our answer in James 3:13-18 and in Matthew 5:9:

James 3:13-18 (ESV) Wisdom from Above

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Matthew 5:9 (ESV)

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.      

         Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:9 Greek huioi; see Preface

We know from experience, that the sacrifices remembered in ceremonies on November 11, no matter how dear and noble may help to win a battle and a war, but do not put an end to war and conflict which seem to be intertwined in human nature because of sin.

But God did provide a solution to the sinful nature of men and women, which is the underlying root cause of war. God allowed the battle against sin and sin’s progenitor, Satan, by allowing the sacrifice of one innocent man: his only son, Jesus on the cross. And by way of the cross, all who believe and admit to sin; who desire to change to the way of the Lord receive the gift of salvation, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal life. I would like to show a short video to illustrate how we should not forget this sacrifice every day of our lives.

I would now like to present Billy Graham’s message entitled The Cross.

Video from www.findingmyhope.org  The Cross

Let us pray…

Benediction (2 Thessalonians 3:16):

 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.  The Lord be with you all.

BLCF Accept Jesus