A Sermon for 24th Sunday after Trinity at the Danish Lutheran Church of Vancouver, B.C.

Da 7:9–10, 13–14
2Co 5:1–10
Jn 5:17–29

The words from our bible today is about how peaceful the heavenly dwellings are. How good it is to be at home with God. These are comforting words on Remembrance Day.

 

But life as we know it is not always peaceful and maybe that is why our bible today tells us about Judgement Day too.

God judges no one, he just wants us to honour his Son.

Do we honour Christ, or do we judge each other? Or do we even judge ourselves?

 

Today on Remembrance Day we can look back and remember several wars and what do we do today to prevent new wars?

Can we do anything at all?

Can we at all do anything to stop violence and fighting?

 

There is an old well-known poem about this dilemma.

The poem is written by a German Lutheran pastor who him self grew up during World War I and later in life he became an anti-communist and he supported Hitler’s rise.

Pastor Niemoller was trying not to be personally involved, the Church did not concern itself with politics at all at that time, but as Hitler got more and more power, then Niemoller had his doubts... He became disillusioned.

And so, he started a group of pastors that opposed to Hitler.

Then he was arrested, and he was sent to a concentration camp.

 

He wrote this poem published in many forms after WW2:

First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Today we celebrate Remembrance Day and we mark the centenary, World War I ended 100 years ago today!

But we all know that there was a World War II as well and countries are still fighting wars.

We are not involved, we have all come to church today. We are peaceful Christians so why even bother celebrating Remembrance Day? We can turn the other cheek, that’s what the bible teaches us to do.

We can talk ourselves out of any conflict with the excuse that it will only get me in trouble if I meddle or speak out.

There is always a price for speaking out, but there is a price for silence as well.

The Lord’s promise today is a heavenly dwelling, but there is more to his promise than peace forever!

These are the words today: We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done, whether good or bad.

To do good should be just as easy as to do bad.

How come then speaking out is difficult? Why is it easier to look away?

The old Niemoller poem is about guilt and responsibility. And it doesn’t seem to be outdated. And today on Remembrance Day we can all benefit from hearing more than comforting words.

The Lord knows how we all struggle and how we would rather not speak out; most people even judge themselves thinking: I could have done things better, if only I had done a better job raising my children, being a better person etc.

Another German pastor, Martin Luther once taught us: Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works!

And today The Lord reminds us that we can do good.

Today November 11th the bells are ringing all over Canada. And back in old Denmark all the Danish churches ring the bells after the service.

We usually only ring the bells before a service in our Danish church, but today the bells are ringing when we walk out too, to remind us to go in peace.

Not in a sense that peace means do nothing, but peace in the spirit of: Peace be with you!

Let us try to turn to our neighbour in peace, not turn the other way! We cannot stop all wars, but we can begin with praying for our neighbor, turn to each other in peace, greet each other and look at each other with kindness. Be good persons who are doing good works.

So, in that way we at least are not starting a fight, so in that way we are at least not the cause or the reason for strife and violence.

This is what the bells are calling us to do today: go in peace and do good!

Doing the right thing is not always easy; and that is exactly why our good Lord reminds us to do so today!

And now we have all heard it, so onward then in the name of Jesus!

Amen