John 15, Remembrance Sunday, November 13th 2022

John 15, Remembrance Sunday, November 13th 2022

Remembrance Sunday, 13th Nov 2022,

 John chapter 15:9-17

Aalso. James 3:13- 4:12


O Lord, Jesus Christ,

You are the Way, we pray that you will not let us stray from you,

You are the Truth – we pray that we will keep us from a lack of trust in you,

You are the Life. Teach us by your Holy Spirit, what to believe, what to do, and how to love others, teach us how to live the abundant eternal life you offer.


Growing up in N.Ireland, I was involved in the beavers, cubs and scouts. One significant date in our calendar would be Remembrance Sunday – that Sunday closest to 11th November, when United Kingdom would pause and remember those who had been killed in military service in the First and Second world wars and the wars such as in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, since then.

The UK of course, isn’t the only country to remember – many of the members of the British Commonwealth – use that same date.

And France and Belgium will remember on 11th November Armistice Day recalling the end of the first world war which devastated their countries, and in the USA, Veterans Day, 11th November recalling those who have served and who are currently serving in the military or who are reservists…

Of course, other countries have other dates to remember, such as May 4th here in the Netherland, and Anzac Day on 25th April in Australia and New Zealand.  

Remembrance Sunday was a day when we turned out in our uniforms, in rain or sun, cold or very wet, to remember the young and old who gave their lives in service of their country…

At the heart of that Day of Remembrance is sacrifice. The poppies we wear or see – the vivid red reminding us of the fields in Flanders and others places where people of our age and younger died.

Sacrifice is a word with strong Christian resonance.

It is a word Christ applies to community.

He has called his followers – created a community – he called them to be with him and that he would send them out, in the purposes of the kingdom of God, that they would be disciples and disciples life long.

John 15 as a chapter, shows, for his church Christ had an upward direction, ‘Abide in me’,

an inward direction– ‘love one another’

and an outward direction, ‘you also will bear witness / testify.’

Ideas which of course, remind us of our core values of Up, In, Out.

And when Jesus talks of IN, of discipleship and community, he says:

“12 My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Retired US General Harold Moore wrote the book “We were soldiers once and young”, discussing his command’s first battle in Vietnam.

In the opening pages he quotes those words of Jesus: ‘’13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’’

 Jesus teaching resonated with him of what military service and warfare meant to him. Serving with ones friends – those who began as strangers but over training and combat became friends – ones he would be willing to lay down his life for.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’’

Christ is talking of his own coming sacrifice, yet he tells the community he has formed,

‘’my command is this: love each other as I have loved you.’’

 Jesus says, true Christian love, is sacrificial love, a love which reflects, a mirror, shaped by Christ’s own sacrificial self giving love.

A Christ like community – a deep Christlike community as we want to be here – is seeing each believer as a friend and being willing to lay down your life for them. A deep Christ like community Jesus says – is loving, sacrificial, just like he was…

The word sacrifice is stretching.

This is about acting justly and loving mercy – as Lord says through the prophet Micah …

It is  about refusing to allow barriers to exist between us and others,

It is about that we are forgiving,

It is about that we will not allow this church to become dysfunctional and to be a church of cliques.

Sacrifice means it costs us something.

Jesus invites us to sacrificial love, which is a willing to lay it all down for others, for the band of brothers and sisters around us.

James speaks about community life. He talks of fights, quarrels. He asks, what is the root of it. He says, it comes from ‘your desires that battle within you. You want something but you don’t get it. You kill and covet but you cannot have what you want.’’ It is war like language. Like Jesus who talked about ‘plucking a plank out of your eye, before taking the speck out of a brother’s eye / or cut off your eye if it causes you to lust etc.’ The actions between believers has become fights quarrels, quite destructive, almost like, or with an intention to defeat, to conquer the other person – like in a war, to kill, to defeat the opponent.

It is about what they get, not what they can sacrifice for the other. It is about what they want and can get.

James, says not only are their attitudes to each other all wrong – but their relationship to God is damaged. ‘They do not ask God’. For what they want.

And when they have asked, they do not receive – because ‘you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’

The other is not in mind, it is all about what I want and what I think is right.

When I worked in England, on Remembrance Sunday, I would speak about remembering, giving thanks, and seeking to learn the lessons from our past, wanting to build a better tomorrow.

 Jolanda once said, she wanted to share a few words in a Sunday Service – where we were in Telford – to say ‘Thank you’ to the people there. For while my sermon would focus on how the people their grandfathers, their uncles, even brothers in some cases, went to fight, she wanted to say thank you, for their sacrifices, to help bring liberation to her country the Netherlands, so it could be free. To thank them, those church members whose relatives and friends had been willing to lay it all down for a country many of them had never been to, for people they had never met, for villages and streets they had never heard of.

To lay down, to sacrifice for others. James is challenging the congregation – too much of its life has become, what ‘I get and want’ as a Christian and not, it is a church that has become shaped increasingly by selfish ambition and envy, instead of the importance of the other, and living lives of purity, peace-loving, consideration, submission to each other, being full of mercy (than quarrels), full of good fruit, impartial and sincere and being peacemakers.

It is easier to be self focused as Christian, than to live sacrificially. Jesus invites us to sacrificial love. ‘’Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’’  General Moore said – those who began as strangers but over training and combat became friends – ones he would be willing to lay down his life for.

How can we become friends as a church?  

A friendly church means we treat each other as friends.

A person who is new – a visitor, a short term worker, a refugee, a business man on a week long visit to Amersfoort, etc is “a not yet friend.” We welcome them – not just by our stewards, but by each of us, helping this to be the best service they have ever had, and importantly afterwards, over coffee, they are welcomed into our community and personal networks. We help them to feel this church is their home and they can have friends here.

Welcome doesn’t stop at the coffee, truly welcoming means welcoming anyone new into the heart and soul and life of our church, not leaving them on the fringes…and welcoming them into our lives.

And that is costly, that is sacrificial – takes time, attention, energy, maybe we may even feel we are time poor and I am trying to manage my own existing friendships, let alone help others make friends…Yet here at All Saints, we want to be a place where strangers, become friends, or friends become deep, life long ones… We want to be a deep community, one of friends, seeking to be life long disciples.

Sacrifices means standing alongside one another.

 Over the summer we were camping in the Ardennes for the first time. It was a lovely place, but when we first drove south of Liege, we realized we had forgotten how it was to drive up a proper hill…

We stayed south of Bastogne. It is known for the Battle of the Bulge, and the town’s defence primarily by the 101st Airborne Division. This story became part of Band of Brothers. In one of the episodes on Bastogne, there is the focus on Sergeant Lipton, who visits the men during gaps in the battle, to encourage, to challenge, to have a joke, to command. He is someone who stands alongside his men and the men of the unit. It is part of his role, and yet this actions are contrasted to another officer in the episode, who remains focused on his own needs, wants and survival. He is absent.

The Collins Dictionary shared its top 10 words for 2022. One was Quiet Quitting – means: the practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do, especially in order to spend more time on personal activities; it is the practice of doing little or no work while being present at one’s place of employment.

Quiet Quitting is not discipleship Jesus asks of us – to do no more than we are contractually obliged to do…  Sacrificial love. 

When Jesus says – love one another as I have loved you – Christ stood alongside us in our great need, and he invites us to stand alongside our fellow believers in their needs, even when it is costly.

At the end of his letter James, focuses the church on how to stand alongside each other, instead of fights, quarrels.

‘is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise… Is anyone of you sick, he should call the elders of the church to pray over him… confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed… my brothers if one of you should wander from the truth, and someone should bring him back…’

To be friends, to stand alongside, to lay down your life for the other, sacrifice.

In the Anglican Liturgy, Remembrance Sunday has remembrance about sacrifice, thanksgiving for sacrifice,  but also promising to make a better world. We will make an act of dedication, where we, in God’s presence, commit ourselves to be peacemakers, to be healers of the wounded, to be those who act justly to build a just world, a world that God created, loves and died for.

Jesus words of ‘laying down his life’, point us to our world. For Jesus laid down his life for our world. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son’. Thinking of the reason for Jesus sacrificial love causes us to look outwards. 

We are loving towards each other but also towards those who are not part of a Christian community. His own words about love your neighbour and love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Our world changes and so does the challenges and demands of discipleship. We live in an unstable time. The Collins Dictionary, word of the year for this year was ‘permacrisis’ – it means ‘an extended time of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events’.  This relates to the past 3 years – Covid, war, political change and crisis, energy crisis and areas of poverty in parts of our world such as in areas of Africa, Yemen.

How do we live sacrificially to our neighbours in these days, which people are anxious nervous feel constant change? We are not quietly quitting.


“12 My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”

This day, Remembrance Sunday, shows us and reminds us of one way Christ invites us to live out our discipleship.

Remembrance Sunday – as we look at the poppies we wear, or the poppy in our hand, we remember the sacrifice of men and women from years ago or recently,

we think of Christ’s sacrifice for us,

and we accept his challenge to be a people of sacrificial love, for those around us,

and to be agents of that love in the world of great change and stress in which we live.

Closing prayer:

God, our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord.