The Revd.

Matthew J Hughes

01689 856931

Associate Rector   

The Revd.
Stephen Broadie
 01689 852843

Assistant Priest  

The Revd.

Bill Mullenger

020 8462 9624


November Leader - Remembrance

I recently picked up a book in the library called ‘Gone to Ground’, the autobiographical account of Marie Jalowicz Simon, a German Jewish lady who managed to live in hiding inside Nazi Germany during the Second World War. She spent these years almost always on the run, moving between different safe houses, staying with foreign workers, committed communists, and even at times convinced Nazis. Although she survived the war, she lived in constant fear for her life, and what she went through and experienced in those years led to her having at least two nervous breakdowns in the years following the War. Nevertheless, when the war came to an end she decided to stay in Berlin. Writing to a Jewish friend after the war, she explained this decision, writing this: ‘I’d like to defuse the usual argument that pride doesn’t allow us to live in the land of the gas chambers. Do you think that the mob anywhere else in the world, if their worst instincts had been cleverly aroused, would have behaved any better than the mob in Germany? Germans have murdered millions of Jews. But many Germans, risking their lives, made great sacrifices to help me.’ For Marie, the war had made her aware of the capacity for good within people, but also of the great capacity for evil in humankind.

At the end of the crucifixion account, as Jesus hangs on the cross, we learn that ‘one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water’ (John 19:34). In his book, ’Celebration of Discipline’, the author Richard Foster says that ‘Love, not anger, brought Jesus to the cross. Golgotha came as a result of God's great desire to forgive, not his reluctance. Jesus knew that by his vicarious suffering he could actually absorb all the evil of humanity and so heal it, forgive it, redeem it.' The spear to Jesus’ side was intended to end his life. However, Jesus had already died. His body had already absorbed all the violence – all the whips, the thorns, the nails – that humankind could bring against him. As Richard Foster says, by his vicarious suffering he was absorbing all the evil of humanity. To paraphrase Isaiah 2:4, a military spear was turned into a harmless tool of peacetime.

At the cross God’s love overcame violence. The furthest that we ever ran into our own capacity for sin and violence only drove us right into the arms of a loving God. As we, as a human race, carried out the unspeakable in crucifying God himself, God only offered love in return. Centuries later, as we brought about 2 World Wars with millions dead, God continued to love us. The incredible message of the Bible is that God’s love actually overcomes violence. It is love that was demonstrated as Jesus was crucified, buried, and then rose again. The very one who had not fought back against the soldiers actually overcame sin, death, and the devil in his resurrection.

It is fitting that on Remembrance Sunday at war memorials all over the country, wreaths and poppies are laid at the foot of a stone cross. These flowers are symbols of lives lost in war, including the 17 million who lost their lives in World War 1, and the 60 million who lost their lives in World War 2. So it is still to the cross that we bring our pain, our suffering, and our remembrance of those swords and spears. We bring them to the cross because we continue to believe that at the cross, Christ can transform our capacity for evil. He alone can heal us, forgive us, and redeem us. In a world still riddled with wars we continue to believe and pray that God can change us. It is God’s love that overcomes evil.




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