All Saints, Cochrane

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

May the words of my lips, and the thoughts and meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

Introduction

The hope at the end of the First World War was that if we recognized that human ingenuity had created technologies for death and destruction on such an unimaginable scale as had been seen, no one would ever fight a war again.

The sad reality is that wars have been a constant in human history. The first war comes in the Bible when Cain kills his brother Abel.[1] It is a much smaller scale, but in the end represents that same human brokenness which cause wars today: jealousy, greed, hatred, and pride. And so we continue to remember.

We acknowledge how war and conflict have injured, body and soul, so many of those who have served. We remember those who have died in the cause of peace.

For many of us today remembrance is personal. Husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, and children have all served and we remember them today.

My great-grandparents served and died in the First World War. My grandparents then served in the Second World War. I was quite close to my grandfather. We talked all about his life and so many other things. One thing he never shared with me was about his wartime experience.

It’s common for veterans to avoid talking about their wartime experiences. It shows us something of how violence and war affect us.

Hope for a Better Future

Our reading from the Book of Job also touches on this idea of how violence and war affect us.

Job seemingly loses everything. His family members are suddenly killed, some by natural disasters, others by violence from raiders who came to steal and pillage. He loses everything, even his health.

When we think of the bloody brutality, muck, and mire of war we can see some of the parallels to how war affects individuals like it affects Job.

Our reading comes from the 19th chapter, about half-way through the book. In the middle of this seeming hopelessness, Job proclaims his hope.

It is a reading that we often hear at funerals: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.”[2]

This isn’t a hope that is unique to Job but is a hope for everyone. The Hebrew word translated as Redeemer normally refers to a relative who would support you when you were in debt or bondage. In this passage, it refers to God as the one who will redeem Job from his situation and from death, and highlights the intimate relationship, as if family, between Job and God.[3]

Job speaks of a hope that he cannot see clearly but believes in. “After my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God.”[4] This is a hope in resurrection. A hope that goes beyond his current state, and even his own life.

Hope against Sin

As we remember those who have served in times of war, we hope for peace.

One of the few things my grandfather said to me about his wartime service was that he hoped that future generations would not have to endure war.

Because of the efforts of veterans, we live in a better world. We haven’t created a perfect world, but this is a world where evil is opposed. Despite that, while human brokenness continues, war will continue. Jealousy, greed, hatred, and pride. Some of you will recognize these as the Deadly Sins. They are sources of human conflict and war.

Christians, like Job, profess that our Redeemer lives. Job was speaking about his personal situation, but we think about a Redeemer for the whole world.

Hope for the one who will end all the brokenness of the world by coming into it to heal it. A final victory over sin, despair, and destruction.

Conclusion

The soldiers we remember today have seen the worst cruelty of human ingenuity and actions. In many ways what they see and experience reminds us of the death and loss that Job suffered, having his life and family seemingly snatched away from him in an instant.

Today we remember. We remember the wars of the past. We remember those who have served in them. We admit that in years to come, we will continue to see more war and conflict, and more men and women will be called to serve. We remember and confess our hope.

That hope has a name. Jesus Christ. A light in the darkness, which no darkness can overcome.[5] The one who heals the brokenness of this world.

Remembrance isn’t about a glorification of the past, but it is about calling to mind the hope we have during the different circumstances—good and bad—in this world.

No matter the darkness, no matter the violence, no matter the suffering, there is always light, there is always peace, and there is always healing in Christ.

[1] Genesis iv. 8

[2] Job xix. 25

[3] “גָּאַל,” Brown-Driver-Briggs

[4] Job xix. 26

[5] S. John i. 5

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