They say that everyone has a good novel inside them. Similarly I had one good Remembrance sermon inside me ...but I gave it last year ('Blessed are the peacemakers'). That was it.
But now it's that time of year again I have to come up with another one. My heart sinks.
I find it so hard thinking about War. I'm pretty against it, to be honest. I look at it almost entirely from a mother's point of view and mothers do not generally want their sons and daughters to go off to fight, kill and die.
I'm getting the feeling the rest of The Church of England has a somewhat ambivalent relationship to Remembrance. It's a time of year when a peculiar alliance of Church and State brings thoughts about the war dead into focus for many who have no specific religious views at all. I don't know many clergy who relish it, and quite a few who dread it. One friend found himself in conflict with a uniformed society who wanted to lay their 'colours' on the altar during the service. The altar is only for remembering Christ's sacrifice, right? Or wrong? How can the church be prophetic about the horrors of war, preach Christ as the 'ultimate sacrifice' and at the some time fulfil its role as national church, providing a liturgical framework for honouring the dead?
This ambivalence is reflected in the confusion over readings. The Lectionary has Jonah 3, Hebrews 9 on sacrifice and Mark 1, the calling of the first disciples. Rosalind Brown in the faith section of Church Times this week writes: 'Today's readings make no special concessions to Remembrance Sunday, which is appropriate, because war makes no special concessions to our lives'. All very fine but what is a preacher supposed to do? Preach as though it isn't Remembrance? She then tries to link the Remembrance-inappropriate readings to Remembrance.
The Anglican on line 'Visual Liturgy', by contrast, offers 'Remembrance Readings' from Micah 4's vision of peace, something from the Apocrypha that my Protestant self has never read; Romans 8: nothing can separate us from the love of Christ - and no gospel.
And herein lies the exact problem for a Minister of the gospel. Is it just another Sunday where we are preaching the Good News, with whatever reference to Remembrance feels appropriate, or should all normal preaching be abandoned and the preacher 'preach' on war and the 'pity of war'?
Should I be wearing a white poppy as well as a red?
Perhaps as fewer people alive actually remember either World War, we will have to re imagine remembrance somehow. What will that look like?