Yesterday there were many acts of Remembrance all over Europe to commemorate the start of WW1. Westminster Abbey held a ‘full on’ act of Remembrance with readings from The Bible, prayers, letters from soldiers and other (now) historic documents. (They sang a great hymn as well but I can’t recall it – I’ll post it here if I remember.)
It was broadcast live on the BBC so I was able to watch most of it. There was a suitable air of seriousness and solemnity. And we should mark and remember these historic moments. I have to say (US friends would I think agree) No country does pomp & ceremony like we do.
I don’t want to be a killjoy, but it being a Religious act of remembrance is hugely problematic – to me anyway. Most likely not to anyone else. The whole service was a journey into the darkness of war. Candles were extinguished, and as they were, a section of the church was simultaneously plunged into darkness. Very visual. It worked I thought. With this idea of darkness – and even without it – the readings were like an incredible Beam of Light shining into the darkness of a sinful world (apostate church).
At the start of the service these words were read by Reverend John Hall the Dean of Westminster:
“As we reflect on the failure of the human spirit that led to an inexorable slide into war, let us spend a moment in silent repentance,”
That failure of the human spirit is called sin. And when I heard the ‘call’ to ‘silent repentance’ I wondered what it was we were called to repent of. There is no doubt war is terrible thing, the cost is horrific. Later in the service readings from the Bible put some flesh on it as we were called through the Word of God to ‘return to the Lord’. As much as I appreciated the readings from scripture there needed to be preaching pointedly to the congregation and the Nation as a whole to repent and believe the Gospel. The work of the minister or Pastor is to ‘Herald’ the good news of the Gospel. But it can’t be good news without explaining that ‘we all like sheep have forsaken God, and turned to our own ways’. And that The ‘Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all’. We need a Saviour, a Mighty Rescuer to redeem us from the righteous and just Wrath of God.The readings will, I suspect, just be seen as part of the remembrance ceremony and to be discarded on leaving the building.
Imagine the furore the next day in the news – or even during the service – if the Gospel was powerfully proclaimed. If all were named as sinners in need of a Saviour.
This morning I read about Josiah and his reforms in 2 Kings 22 & 23 and 2 Chronicles 34 & 35. The stand out verse, and relevant to our discussion, is found in 2 Kings 22:8 ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord’. Also in 2 Chronicles 34:15. What an irony! The Bible is found in a Church. Upon hearing it read, Josiah tore his clothes as he realised the wrath of God is upon them (2 Kings 22: 13 & 2 Chronicles 34:21). Josiah then sets about reforming the worship and is the only King to put it all right since Solomon introduced false worship hundreds of years earlier.
The dignitaries are gathered, there is much pomp and ceremony. The Word of God is read. But no repentance toward God. ‘O that Thou wouldest rend the heavens and come down’ (Isaiah 64:1). O Lord have mercy on us and our land, grant repentance and faith in The Lord Jesus. Save the people Lord, Save the people and bring Glory to your Son Jesus Christ.