Birdsong – by Sebastian Faulks

11 03 2015

I could list an awful lot of thinks I didn’t like about this book.

  • I didn’t like the fact there was a very graphic, “intimate” scene quite early on in the book when I thought it was going to be about life in the trenches.
  • I didn’t like how it had so many characters that it was hard to keep track at times
  • I didn’t like how it occasionally jumped forward to the 1970s to a slightly related but quite separate plot. I was looking to learn about the war, not some random ladies life and problems in the 70s!
  • I didn’t like where the book ended, it felt weak, and didn’t end in the section/era/characters I expected or wanted it to.

…and yet, I really did enjoy this book. There was, once you’d got your head around the different sections, a thread running through the whole thing, and I got what felt like a much better idea of how horrific life was for soldiers, and also miners, in the trenches in the first world war. It definitely brought through to the front the reality of it all.

I initially bought this book because of the centenary of the first world war, and hoped to learn a lot. It wasn’t what I expected, but I did, on the whole, enjoy it!

Sermon notes: Sacrifice

11 11 2014

These are my notes from the sermon that was shared at church on this Remembrance Sunday.

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

John 15 vv 12-14
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.

A lady called Amy Beechey had 8 sons who fought in WWI. Only 3 came home, one of whom was permanently disabled. She received an honour from the Queen for her immense sacrifice, and replied, “I was no sacrifice Ma’am. I did not give them willingly.”

A man called Rob Young is running a marathon every day for a year. Every day, between 2-5am he runs a marathon, before then going about his normal day at work. He is sacrificing his sleep to raise money for those less fortunate. He’s currently well over halfway through, and hoping to raise £200,000.

Our sin and self-centred-ness as humans has polluted creation. Alongside these acts of sacrifice, we see greed, jealously, hate, violence.

We were created to love and serve God. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, but they rebelled as they chose to serve their own wants first. In doing so, human kind lost their intimate friendship with God.

Sin is when we love ourselves more than we love God, this cuts us off from Him. Jesus lived a life totally going by His Father’s agenda, He took our sins on Himself, allowed himself to be cut off from God even though he never sinned Himself, and in doing so, restored our ability to have a relationship with the Father.

No one other than Jesus, the only sinless man, could have done this. Our greatest sacrifices are nothing in comparison, they could never have freed us. That said, we are now called to lay down our lives in sacrificial love for others (John 15v12).

Jesus loved us, even when we didn’t deserve His love, and so we are to love others even when they don’t deserve it. Jesus didn’t wait until we were worthy of His love before he died for us in love. He loved us while we were far away.

It’s impossible to humanly love as Jesus loved, but Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, through which His love can run. We need to remain connected to Him, to draw our love from Him.

In this way, if we love as Christ loved us, we will shine as lights in the darkness.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke