The Third Sunday after Pentecost

I conducted the D-Day Remembrance at Mildenhall last Thursday at the cenotaph. There was a small gathering from the community, nine wreaths to be laid (so not many at all), and four Sea and Royal Marine Cadets were able to be there from school and admirably assisted with the laying of wreaths. I could be heard because of the good sound system. And there was one thing to take into account – the fact that the roads were not closed and traffic was going past and between me on the ‘cenotaph island’ and the public on the footpath. The sound of the buses, lorries, and cars didn’t bother me. The fact that on a number of occasions the buses and lorries meant I couldn’t see the public and they couldn’t see me wasn’t an issue. What did concern me was the people who came across the road with a wreath – one person even using a walking frame and personal assistants – and so in my welcome at the beginning I made a comment about awareness, road safety, and that we were not in a rush – and that the event we were commemorating was full of a cacophony of sound, sights, and chaos. (And no one was firing at us!) Some of the cars could see what was happening, others seemed not to have a clue, and the buses and lorries in the main drove through us ‘respectfully’ (if you know what I mean) – and so we commemorated the first day of the Battle of Normandy with respect and reverence – and, to me, this added situation seemed almost fitting.

Yes, it is easier and safer to have a commemoration when the roads are closed but commemorations can happen at all times, in all weather, and in all circumstances. Ships anchored don’t really need the anchor when in port but away from a safe harbour or in bad weather, then anchors come into their own. Values and ethics are easy to say or put up on walls when they are not needed or thought of as ‘only for big things’ but they can be much harder to put into practice when we are in conflict with them especially in the ‘little things’.

I see being a disciple of Jesus as living in this world with Jesus but still living in this world with its cacophonies, its things that drive between us and God, the need for true awareness, true safety, and patience particularly against the gnawing message that can come ‘loud’ or ‘soft’ that Christian faith is a delusion. Christians live their discipleship in their lives – no one else’s – and maybe not even in the life they themselves want to live! It might be easier to trust God’s grace and mercy when we are happy and healthy and the sun is shining on our life. Nevertheless we are still called to that same trust when we have troubles, when things are not going right, when the medical diagnosis is not what we want, when relationships are breaking or broken. And when we are in dark times – whether inflicted upon us by others or done to ourselves by ourselves – then another gnawing message comes that Christianity is useless because it only offers eternal hope and happiness to anesthetise the gullible masses not to work for social change and justice.

And yet the cross of Jesus has never been superseded as the message par excellence that God is involved with this world – the one we’re making in our image – with our lives – the one with all its ups and downs, hopes and fears, shames and joys that we actually live – and God’s involvement is not the magic click of his cosmic fingers but a one-day-a-time involvement of mercy and sacrifice, forgiveness and reconciliation – to testify his love for us – and to guarantee that following Jesus is the best way to live our life, one day at a time.