Week beginning 10th November 2019 – House group questions
There are a number of different areas, with which you could explore this, you can cover as many or as little as you like depending on where your discussions take you.
Remembrance Sunday – As a group reflect on Remembrance Day, what does it mean to you and why?
Do you have stories of your own family members who took part in or who survived either the first or second world war or perhaps one since?
Remembering - In the story of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8) Peter suggests making three dwellings, this is reminiscent of the Old Testament practice of erecting an altar where there had been an experience of God to be a reminder and to remember.
Do we have equivalents? How do we remember what God has done?
Difference – In the sermon, I spoke about Difference saying “In our current political climate and rhetoric there is the fear of difference and a fear of the other, but today we are reminded that 75 years ago, despite differences, nations stood alongside one another to fight for justice and freedom.”
Would you agree or disagree with this statement and why?
John 15 5-17 – When reading this passage, What do you notice? How do we remain in his love? In this current political landscape, how might we love one another?
As I was preparing this service I was struck by these words.
When you go home, Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, We gave our today.
This is the Kohima Epitaph and what I hadn’t appreciated but was soon to come to as I continued my preparation, was that these words are the inscription taken from a cemetery for British soldiers who fell at the battle of Kohima.
This year, the Royal British Legion’s focus for is ‘Remembering Together’, asking communities across Britain to join together and remember the service, sacrifice, friendship and collaboration of the men and women of Britain, the Commonwealth and Allied Nations who fought together 75 years ago. And much of what I say has been taken from the Royal British Legion’s Website.
Whilst Allies from the Commonwealth and other nations had fought shoulder to shoulder with Britain since the start of the Second World War. It was in 1944 this collaboration would result in victory in three critical battles; Monte Cassino, D-Day, and Kohima and Imphal.
At Monte Cassino, in Italy, between January and May 1944, a 240,000 strong Allied Army with contingents from six continents, fought in four battles on and around Monte Cassino and the town of Cassino. This victory led to the Liberation of Rome on the 4th June 1944, just two days before D-Day.
At D-Day, the 6th June 1944, the militaries of thirteen nations and tens of thousands of members of the French Resistance collaborated to land 156,000 men in Normandy; This was the start of the liberation of France and Western Europe. Codenamed Operation Neptune, the D Day landings included an armada of over 5,000 vessels and ships, nearly 11,000 aeroplanes and over 130,000 ground troops. It drew on the knowledge of meteorologists, scientists, inventors. It involved vast deceptions and secret operations to ensure success.
At Kohima and Imphal one of the most ethnically diverse Armies in history would come together to win one of the most remarkable victories of the war. ©IWM (IND 2864) On 29 March 1944 over 15,000 soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army surrounded a mixed British and Indian garrison of 2,500 men in Kohima. The forces there were to witness some of the worst close quarters fighting of the Second World War.
Finally, on the 18 April a relief column broke through the Japanese siege relieving the British and Indian forces. The Battle of Kohima was not by any means over at that point - with fighting continuing until the Allied forces were able to link up with those at Imphal.
At Imphal, British and Indian forces had been besieged since the 5 April. However, by mid-May relief forces had fought their way through and by the 22 June those forces had been completely relieved.
Following the battles of Kohima and Imphal, the Japanese never won another battle.
In the Festival of Remembrance on the BBC yesterday there was a very moving moment, when having told the stories of these battles, 44 veterans representing the many battles and campaigns fought during 1944. Watching that moment and noting the number of different nationalities present, reminded me of the importance of remembering together.
Our Gospel reading this morning, reminds us too of the importance of remembering together. At the start of reading, Jesus uses the imagery of a vine and a vine-grower. He is the true vine and his Father is the vine-grower. The vine’s reason for being is to be fruitful and his disciples, as are we, are called to Abide or remain in his love so that we too are fruitful. In v12 his disciples, as are we are given the commandment to love one another as Christ has loved us and this is demonstrated in the following verse ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. We often think of these words in terms of the cost of lives given in each of the wars, but we must also remember that through his own death and resurrection, Jesus demonstrated his love for each one of us and this was done freely so that we might know him for ourselves. At the end of the passage is the command to love one another.
In our current political climate and rhetoric there is the fear of difference and a fear of the other, but today we are reminded that 75 years ago, despite differences, nations stood alongside one another to fight for justice and freedom. Today we remember together all those who have given their lives in the first and second world wars and those that have lost their lives in fighting and war since. As we do so let us remember the example set for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, be faithful in remembering his command to love each other and be people who are prepared to stand alongside the other.