Sunday Worship – 12th November 2023 – Remembrance Service

(All our songs this morning are from Singing the Faith (StF) numbers will be given where available)

Welcome to our Remembrance Sunday Service, today shared on paper across our circuit and with the congregation at Wilsden Trinity Church a methodist and URC LEP which has been prepared by Rev Phil Drake our Circuit Superintendent Minister. At Wilsden, the congregation will meet in church before heading into the village to share in an Act of Remembrance at the War Memorial. This written service includes an Act of Remembrance which can used just before 11am.

Click on the blue links to follow them for bible readings and associated links

Call to worship (Psalm 46.1)

God is our refuge and strength;
a very present help in trouble.

Song – StF 132 – O God our help in ages past

Opening prayers

Gracious God
We praise you for your love in Jesus Christ,
for his life of service and self-giving
and for the new life which come through Christ’s death on the cross.
On this special Sunday as we remember all those killed in war
who sought to serve their country,
help us to look upon your gift of life with thankfulness
and to hold on to the hope which comes from trusting in you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Prayer of confession.

Father God, whose name is love and whose nature is mercy,
hear our confession on this day of remembrance.
We are saddened by a world marked by pride, selfishness and greed,
and torn apart by violence and war.
We are sorry for our part in causing hatred and division,
and for our failure to make our heart’s desire
that peace which is your will for humankind.

In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to correct what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To think about: Rosemary for remembrance

The herb rosemary gets its name from Mary, mother of Jesus – there is a legend that Mary, escaping to Egypt with Joseph and the baby Jesus when escaping from the violence of King Herod, rested a while and spread her cloak on a rosemary bush; the blue flowers turned her cloak blue, and afterwards the plant became known as the rose of Mary – or rosemary for short.

Rosemary is often associated with remembering; the smell of the plant is said to help evoke special memories; in some parts of the world rosemary is used at funerals as an aid to remember the person who has died. Today is Remembrance Sunday, the day when we remember those who died in the two world wars. In Australia and New Zealand, there is a special day for remembering those who died in war called ANZAC day (April 25th).

When I was in Australia in 2006 I attended the dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on ANZAC day. It has become the custom for many in Australia and New Zealand to wear sprigs of rosemary on ANZAC day to help them in their remembering. May we be helped in our own remembering today (if you have some dried or fresh rosemary to hand you may want to smell the scent as part of your worship).

Act of remembrance (which can be started just before 11am if you are following the service on the morning of Remembrance Sunday)

We remember with thanksgiving and sorrow those whose lives,
in world wars and conflicts past and present, have been given and taken away.

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning,
we will remember them.
All affirm: We will remember them.

[There follows the two-minute silence. ]

The following prayer is then said:

Ever-living God, we remember those whom you have gathered
from the storm of war into the peace of your presence;
may that same peace calm our fears, bring justice to all peoples
and establish harmony among the nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Song – StF 705 – It is God who holds the nations in the hollow of his hand

Or use StF 131 – By a monument of marble

Gospel reading:

Mark 14.1-9

Talk: Fragrant memories

Complete for yourself: ‘I love the smell of…’

A sense of smell often associated with long lasting impressions and remembering. Stella Bristow tells the story of a child in a school where she used to help children learn to read. Brian was a child who often seemed to end up in trouble. One day, whilst Stella was sitting with him, Brian said, ‘Cor, Mrs Bristow, you don’t ‘arf smell nice.’ After Stella thanked him, Brian went on, ‘Yes, even when you are not in the room, I can smell that you’ve been there’ (from Sensing God, by Stella Bristow)

In the Gospel reading, Jesus says that the woman who had poured out her fragrant perfume would be remembered. Her act would be remembered long after the event – a bit like the lingering smell of her perfume. Remembrance Sunday is a time for remembering those who died in war long after the time of war is over; but just as our sense of smell can sometimes help us to recapture an event from the past, so this act of remembrance might help us to recall those who lost their lives many years ago.

The woman’s gift was a very generous one – expensive to buy, yet generously given – and this might prompt us to consider how we have received from the generosity of others, those who fought in wars to keep their country free.

We are not told the name of the woman who poured out the perfume. Sometimes on Remembrance Sunday those who remember are remembering particular people by name – for war veterans, friends who fought alongside them; or maybe a relative who died in the fighting. But for many of us we don’t even know the names of those who fought – and yet that does not make our act of remembrance any less worthwhile.

In Jesus’ time rich perfume was often used to anoint the body of the dead, to keep it sweet smelling even in death; the woman’s act of pouring perfume over Jesus was a pointer to Jesus own death, even though the woman did not know what was to happen. This story reminds of the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross – that sacrifice which should be at the heart of all our remembering, not only on Remembrance Sunday but every Sunday of every week, of every year.

Prayers of intercession.

Let us pray for the peace of the world:
for statesmen and rulers, that they may have wisdom to
know and courage to do what is right…
Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

for all who work to improve international relationships, that they may find the true way to reconcile people of different race, colour, and creed…
Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

for men and women and children the world over, that they may have justice and freedom, and live in security and peace…
Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

for all who suffer as a consequence of war…
Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer.

Most gracious God andFather, in whose will is our peace:
turn our hearts and the hearts of all to yourself,
that by the power of your Spirit the peace which is founded on righteousness
may be established throughout the whole world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer may be said.

Song – StF 707 – Make me a channel of your peace

Prayer of hope and sending.

God of hope
We long for a world where there is no more dying,
no more grieving, pain, or death.
We hope for a better world,
where wounds are healed and our divisions are made whole.
We look for a new world,
and to this end
we put our trust in you.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Acknowledgments: Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Prayers for Remembrance taken from the CTBI ecumenical act of remembrance. Photo of rosemary by Christine Harbottle, downloaded from with permission to use in worship. Photo of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, from Phil Drake’s own collection.

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