Scripture Readings: Micah 4:1-5 | Psalm 46 | Romans 12:15-21 | Matthew 5:1-16
[Note: We are being joined this Remembrance Day Sunday by our local Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts groups, which had been a cherished tradition for many years before the outbreak of COVID-19.]
On behalf of everyone here at St. Luke’s Church, I just want to say how great it is to be joined again by you members of our community’s Beaver Colony, Cub Pack, & Scout Troop. We have really missed you these past few years, and we’re looking forward to staying more connected now that the COVID-19 situation in New Brunswick has improved.
You know, a long time ago, far away in Northwestern Ontario, I was once a Beaver, a Cub, and a Scout… although sadly, I never quite made it to the Venturer level. I have many happy memories of camping, hiking, learning all sorts of new skills, making friends, and finding ways to help out in my own community.
As a Scout, I even got the chance to attend the Canadian Jamboree in 1997, or CJ ’97, when it was held in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was pretty amazing: there were Scouts from all over Canada… from very different communities, and backgrounds, all coming together for an exciting adventure, filled with all sorts of activities and experiences. Of course, a whole lot of work and preparation went into bringing all of these Troops together, but it was amazing to be a part of such a huge gathering, with everyone sharing a common purpose.
As I said, this was all a long time ago, and my memory’s not what it used to be. I wonder if I could get some help from a few of our brave guests:
Could any of our Beavers stand up and tell us all, nice and loud, what the Beaver’s motto is? [“Sharing Sharing Sharing”]
And can any of our Cubs stand up and tell us their motto? [“Do Your Best”]
And same for our Scouts. What is your motto? [“Be Prepared”]
And does anyone know the motto for Venturers? [“Challenge”]
Awesome. Thanks for your help. These are all great words to help guide you, not just when you’re with your fellow Beavers, Cubs, or Scouts… but all through life, as you keep learning and growing, and head out into the wide world on all sorts of adventures. Challenge. Be Prepared. Do Your Best. Sharing Sharing Sharing.
As you know, today we are celebrating Remembrance Day here at St. Luke’s… a day when we remember those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the War in Afghanistan, and in the many Peace Keeping missions that Canada has taken part in.
But Remembrance Day is not about celebrating war… it’s about taking time to honour the many people who faced great danger in war so other people would be kept safe. Some people survived these wars unhurt. Many were wounded, in body, mind, or spirit. And many people died… but in a sense all of them offered their lives as a gift to us: facing incredible challenges… being prepared to put their lives at risk… doing their best to bring these conflicts and wars to an end… all so that our world could once again share in lasting peace.
Remembrance Day is really about remembering the price others paid for our peace… so we can show our gratitude, learn from their examples, and do our best to prevent injustice and war from happening again… and so we can be prepared to face the challenges of our day to help our world share in peace.
The words we read from the Bible this morning have a lot to say to us today about peace… helping to guide those who want to bring peace to everyone.
Our first reading this morning is from the writings of an ancient Hebrew Prophet named Micah: sharing God’s message of hope for His people at a time when they had forgotten God’s guiding words, and gotten themselves far off track.
Sometimes when we get off track, we can get lost and into real trouble… facing dangerous situations and challenges that can be pretty scary if we’re not prepared to handle them.
And in Micah’s day, God’s people were scared too: they were surrounded by lots of dangerous and powerful enemies and armies, and they didn’t know what to do. So God gave Micah a message to share with them to help them find hope, and to find their way back home to Him: that is, to remember to trust God, and know that one day God will sort out all of the wars and conflicts, once and for all, and finally bring us peace. On that day, God says:
“nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more…
and no one shall make them afraid”. (Micah 4:3-4)
Micah reminds us that God’s big plans for our world is to bring peace… not just for one nation, but for all. For everyone.
In our second reading, we heard the words of St. Paul, one of the first Christians, who was writing to other believers in Jesus Christ over two thousand years ago, trying to help them prepare for a whole new way of life… the way that Jesus had taught them to live… which would be challenging, but also play an important part in God’s plan to share peace with everyone.
St. Paul tells them (and us) to share in each others joys and times of sorrow. To live in harmony with each other… to do what is right in the sight of all. And to do our best to try and live in peace with everyone. To “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This connects with our last reading from the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus Himself teaches His followers that the way God wants to bring His peace to the world looks very different from what we might expect: that God is working powerfully through those who we might see as powerless… the poor in spirit, those who are grieving, the meek, those hungry and thirsty for what is right… the merciful… those who are persecuted… and those eager to make peace… These are the people that Jesus says can look forward to the blessings of God’s peace.
Jesus shows us we don’t need to fight fire with fire. We can work to put it out instead by trusting in God’s great love, which guides us and works through us to bring real peace.
Though at times we might feel lost, and scared, and hurt, and powerless, we can trust that God has not left us all alone. We can trust that God loves, and cares for us, and longs for everyone to find His peace, and that everyone has a role to play in bringing real peace to our world.
So may we all be prepared to work for peace.
May we all do our best to resist evil by doing good instead.
May we face the real challenges of our days confident in the hope God gives to the world, even when things seem to be at their worst… so that we can all share in the peace of God’s new life, now and forever. Amen.
Rev. Rob serves as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke's Gondola Point, and as the School Chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School