Sermons from St Faith's
An End to War?'
Ven Ricky Panter, Archdeacon of Liverpool,
Remembrance Sunday, November 11th, 2012
The new Archbishop of Canterbury is particularly well equipped
to meet the challenges of his new role: his ‘skill set’
includes, business, finance and conflict resolution.
This is exactly what the prophet Micah foretold: ‘He will settle
disputes – among the nations, among the great powers near and
far. They will hammer their swords into ploughs and their spears
into pruning knives. Nations will never again go to war,
never prepare for battle again.
Bishop Justin Welby has already been involved in conflict
resolution, in the USA, Nigeria, and Kenya. If his appointment
is a response to the desperate need for better relationships –
in the church and the world, then it looks like some prayers
have been answered! Maybe he’s the man to help turn the tide.
You may remember when he got the Cathedral bells to ring John
Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ He’s not afraid to confront, and argue his
cause – but he can do it with grace and humour – which is
disarming. And we need disarming people, who can confront
injustice and violence, and offer another way to live in
Because this year Remembrance Day falls on the 11th (hour, day,
month) radio discussions about those for whom it still came just
too late – over 800 died on 11/11/1918 – still fighting
and hoping that it would all end – but they didn’t live to
celebrate Armistice. They hoped, but didn’t see the fruit of
their labours and their sacrifice, their hope was unfulfilled.
What do we say to hope that leads no further than despair and
failure? How do we answer when, in the words of Jesus in the
Gospel, ‘Terrible distress comes upon the land’?
I said that Justin had been to Kenya and Nigeria, both now four
years ago. He returned harrowed by what he had seen and
experienced –people hacked to death for no better reason than
that they were a different tribe or religion – no one side
really any better than the other
When you see that kind of hatred , Jesus’s further words about
‘God’s punishment falling on his people’ makes an awful kind of
sense. Hatred of anyone – wanting them gone, not caring what
happens to them, is the absolute opposite of God’s purpose in
creating us. He made us for relationships of patience and love –
to care for one another, regardless of whether we share the same
background, colour or preferences..
Because we are made in the image of God and we are all His
children – we have to avoid hatred at all costs – DISARM
it! I’m not preaching pacifism here, I’m not even
espousing a Ghandi or Martin Luther King type of organised
Passive Resistance… they have their adherents and their place in
I’m talking about a different activity – the attempt to settle
disputes – not giving in to hatred, not writing off those whose
words, intentions and actions are incomprehensible to us - but
praying for them, engaging with them, believing that there might
just be some common ground on which to build a better
I asked what we should do when hope has been overtaken by
despair – when Peace came too late – lives were lost,
communities destroyed. We do what the Hillsborough
families are slowly coming to terms with now that the truth
about that tragedy is finally being uncovered… we look for
And that is much bigger than revenge or retribution – it’s a
settlement that is right for all those involved – because no one
is utterly worthless. Living in a world where disputes are so
often ‘settled’ with angry and violent standoffs – and then with
guns and bombs that simply escalate the violence, it feels like
there can be no such justice. Bishop James spoke at Synod
yesterday about the ancients believing that the earth is so evil
that justice has fled for ever! But the cross on which Jesus
Christ suffered an innocent death was God’s demonstration, once
and for all, that faith and love are not overcome – even though
the worst in this world is thrown at them..
Lives may be lost but hope can still flower – because we are not
isolated individuals, only living and dying to ourselves. For
none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for
ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we
die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong
to the Lord. Rom 14:7
Some are overtaken in this life – we remember today the millions
in two world wars, and sadly many seemingly pointless conflicts
since then – but others must take up the baton of hope – and
look to what Micah saw and wrote about settling disputes and
disarming the violence and destruction - God knows we need that.
It shouldn’t just be down to a new Archbishop – it’s something
all of us should devote ourselves to in situations great and
small – near or far.
None of us lives for ourselves alone – we live for the Lord, who
gave his life to make peace.
Return to St
Faith's home page