Posted by: mikebackup | November 9, 2012

For Auld Lang Syne

Reading Mark 12:41-44.

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’

We’re going to consider this reading under the umbrella of Remembrance. This small but very significant observation is placed just after Jesus denounces the Scribes.

As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’

We also know that Jesus was scathing about the Pharisees, for example Matthew 15:1-3 “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?”

Keeping up a certain appearance, not reacting to what really matters and ‘lording’ it over others was a valid criticism by Jesus. From our Remembrance perspective, we know that sort of behaviour has been responsible for many wars and casualties. The First World War is perhaps the worst example of this. The reason the war started was down to arrogance, keeping a certain appearance and being unwilling to compromise. Then on the battlefield, arrogance of the military leaders and a belief that they would trounce the enemy because they were better than them sent millions to their deaths. This is reflected on powerfully in this poem by Wilfred Owen

Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Not all the Jewish leaders were bad – Nicodemus and Jospeh of Arimathea are good Biblical examples. In the same way not all wars were fought because of inherent sin all round. The Second World War was an evil threat to all humanity and the only it could be beaten was through fighting.

Let’s start to turn our focus onto the Widow that Jesus comments on. This is the quiet, willing sacrifice. So many people in the past and today choose to try and work for peace by giving up their daily lives to serve in war zones. Whatever your personal view on a conflict or situation, that’s irrelevant here, our focus is the quiet willingness of ordinary men and women to give up all home comforts, including family and friends to work for peace. They do this on top of knowing that this giving may lead to severe injury or dying. Pray for those people from this day because that decision to serve in that way is incredibly painful and difficult. Hilda’s Derek is a close to home example, having served most of the year on active duty in Afghanistan. It was very difficult for him and his young family. He is a strong Christian and that gave him strength but that didn’t reduce the pain involved, especially when another serving Christian he knew well was killed.

We are not offering ourselves in this way, but there is much for us to reflect in the ways we do serve. These few verses remind us that God notices what others don’t. This is as much a challenge as it is a comfort. God sees what we are prepared to do for him and others. We must make sure we give like the widow. There’s a simple path to follow to making this happen and that’s to make our lives a living prayer. Every thought, every action every word should present itself as praise to the Creator that made us. Let’s be brutally honest here, there are parts of our lives where we’re not living the prayer. Perhaps it’s one of these:

How you speak or think about someone you know
How well you’re looking after yourself
How unwilling you are to change plans
How you spend your money

Let the humble serving and sacrifice of that Widow and all those we stop for this Remembrance painfully remind us of the ways in which we need to change.

I invite you to listen to the following piece of music; I played it last year, but listen to it again and let it help you become that living prayer. It’s the Thoresby Colliery band’s beautiful blending of Auld Lang Syne and The Last Post. May our actions be for that celebration of relationships that’s strived for in Auld Lang Syne. The song reminds us of that coming together at New Year, the peace that’s offered.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?


For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


Make your life be a living prayer and when you can hear The Last Post being played on your life, may you be able to say amen with a peace only God can give.

A prayer of commitment

In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace,
will you comfort those who long for peace in their hearts?
I will.
Will you support those who long for peace in their families?
I will.
Will you visit those who long for peace in their homes?
I will.
Will you pray with those who long for peace in their church?
I will.
Will you work with those who long for peace in their communities?
I will.
Will you speak out for those who long for peace in their nation?
I will.
Will you honour those who work for peace in the world?
In Jesus’ name I will.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: