Sermons  SSLR  Illustrations  Advent Resources  News  Devos  Newsletter  Churchmail  Children  Bulletins  Search

kirshalom.gif united-on.gif

Sermon & Lectionary Resources           Year A   Year B   Year C   Occasional   Seasonal

Join our FREE Illustrations Newsletter: Privacy Policy
Click  Here  to  See  this  Week's  Sermon
The United Church of Canada
The Rev. Dr. Lillian Perigoe

November 8, 1998

An Act of Remembrance

HYMN 527 "God! As with Silent Hearts"

We prepare the table for remembering.

Each reader in turn to lectern to read,
                to trunk for symbol,
                turn to congregation to show symbol,
                to table to place,
                to mike (behind) to say God, make me an instrument of your peace
                (each time previous voices add - mounting )
                to circle.

1. - from In Times Like These, a memoir by Nellie McClung

Introduction: Elizabeth Elliott

Today we try to remember. It is easy to forget; to remember takes some effort. Nellie McClung knew that. She was a writer who put her her talent and wits to work to support oppressed people throughout Canada; she was a staunch Methodist who supported the proposal for union and became an enthusiastic member of the new United Church in 1925; she was a Christian whose faith informed everything she did and was, including her politics; she was a wife, mother and friend of many. In this excerpt from her memoirs, she writes as a mother whose son is going to war.

Reader: Jo-Anne Bentley

In my diary I wrote that day, Dec. 4th, 1915: This morning we said good-bye to our dear son Jack, at the CNR station where snow lay fresh and white on the roofs and on the streets, white and soft, and pure as a young heart.

When we came home, I felt strangely tired and old, though I am only forty-two. But I know that my youth has departed from me. It has gone with Jack, our beloved, our first born, the pride of our hearts. Strange fate, surely, for a boy who has never had a gun in his hands, whose ways are gentle, and full of peace; who loves people, pities their sorrows and would gladly help them to solve problems.

What have I done to you, in letting you go into this inferno of war? And how could I hold you back without breaking your heart?....

to trunk, show, place medal

God, make me an instrument of your peace.

to circle

2. - from Fugitive Pieces, a novel by Anne Michaels


Fugitive Pieces, a novel by Canadian writer Anne Michaels, shows us `the pieces' of lives broken by war, and the miracle of hope that can grow even out of devastation.

In the following `piece' we hear the beginning of the horror of Jakob Beer, a young Jewish boy in Poland, who, from his hiding place, overhears what happens to the rest of his family, including his sister, Bella.

Reader: Rae Perigoe; symbol - buttons

My sister had long outgrown the hiding place. Bella was fifteen and even I admitted she was beautiful, with heavy brows and magnificent hair like black syrup, thick and luxurious, a muscle down her back. "A work of art", our mother said, brushing it for her while Bella sat in a chair. I was still small enough to vanish behind the wallpaper in the cupboard, cramming my head sideways between choking plaster and beams, eyelashes scraping.

Since those minutes inside the wall, I've imagined that the dead lose every sense except hearing.

The burst door. Wood ripped from hinges, cracking like ice under the shouts. Noises never heard before, torn from my father's mouth. Then silence. My mother had been sewing a button on my shirt. She kept her buttons in a chipped saucer. I heard the rim of the saucer in circles on the floor. I heard the spray of buttons, little white teeth....

I wanted to go to my parents, to touch them. But I couldn't, unless I stepped in their blood... I ran and fell, ran and fell... (and finally hid, digging myself into the ground,) planting myself like a turnip, and covering my face with leaves.

Then I felt the worst shame of my life; I was pierced with hunger. And suddenly I realized, my throat aching without sound - Bella...

to trunk; show and place buttons

God, make me an instrument of your peace.


3. - "This Was My Brother", a poem by Mona Gould


Mona Gould, a Canadian poet, was still a child when her brother left to fight in the Second World War. In a poem, she remembered him....

Reader: Amelia Peltz; symbol - picture of young soldier

     This was my brother
         At Dieppe.
         Quietly a hero
         Who gave his life
         Like a gift.
         Withholding nothing.
         His youth ... his love ...
         His enjoyment of being alive ...
         His future, like a book
         With half the pages still uncut -

         This was my broher
         At Dieppe ...
         The one who built me a doll house
         When I was seven,
         Complete to the last small picture frame,
         Nothing forgotten.
         He was awfully good at fixing things,
         At stepping into the breach when he was needed.
         That's what he did at Dieppe.

        He was needed.

         And even death must have been a little ashamed
         At his eagerness.

to trunk

show and place picture

God, make me an instrument of your peace.


4. - from A Terrible Beauty: 2 Letters


In October, 1917, a young Canadian soldier named Talbot Papineau wrote to his mother about his experience in the trenches and his love and concern for her and his family.

Reader: Heather McPherson, to be joined by Peter Fisher, 2nd paragraph); symbol - old letters

October 29, 1917

Dearest Mother,

After all, I have been able to write to you again before going over. We have been fortunate so far and all things are cheerful. I have even shaved this morning in a little dirty water. I was delighted last night to get two letters from you, and a box of candy which I have actually carried with me and have enjoyed. It was a cold night and I slept only about one hour. Also a noisy night, I can assure you, and the earth full of vibrations.

I hope by the same mail you receive another letter from me to say all is successfully over. But of course it may be difficult or impossible to write for a few days, so don't worry.

There seems so little to say when if only I knew what was to happen I might want to say so much. These would be poor letters to have as last ones but you must know with what a world of love they are written. Always remember that I could not love thee so well, or you love me, did I not love honour more. You have given me courage and strength to go very happily and cheerfully into the good fight. Love to all and a big hug for thee, my dear brave little mother.


(as Heather finishes, Peter puts his hand on her shoulder)

Nov. 5, 1917

Mrs. L.J.Papineau.

Dear Madam:

In confirmation of my telegram to you of yesterday's date I regret exceedingly to inform you that an official report has been received to the effect that Capt. A/Major T.M.Papineau, M.C. PPCLI was killed in action on October 30, 1917

Yours truly,

J.M.Knowles, Lieutenant

to trunk; show and place letter

God, make me an instrument of your peace.


5. - from The Faithful Gardener


Clarissa Estes, an internationally known poet, psychoanalyst, and author has written The Faithful Gardener, a book of interlocked tales of loss, survival, and fierce rebirth centred around her uncle, a war-ravaged Hungarian peasant farmer and refugee, and about the many other `almost saints' who made her childhood so remarkable. In this passage, she reflects on the impact of war.

Reader - Dorcas Beaton; symbol - candle and barbed wire

For a long time our small house was filled with many people who had just come from war - and back from the dead. They carried hundreds of horrific images and losses that cannot be described in words alone...

What does it mean to live with a war and memories of war inside oneself? It means one lives in two worlds. One looking for hope, the other feeling hopeless. One looking for meaning, the other convinced that the only meaning in life is that there is no meaning in life.

In each of our people who had suffered so greatly, there were two struggling persons. One living the life of the new world, the other running, constantly running, from memories of hell that rose up and gave chase. Ghosts animated by themselves, roused by a click of a door frame, a cat screeching suddenly in the night... a sudden gust of wind causing a curtain to sweep a jar off a table in a shot to the floor... a sudden train whistle and the sound of the long trestle rumbling.

Mundane matters caused terror, tears or revulsion...

There were wars in uncle that made him remember, as he said, `too much'. There were wars between the death of hope and the hope for death, the hope for life and a life of hope.

Sometimes the only cease-fire that held for any length of time had to be negotiated by a treaty forged with much schnapps and much vodka.

to trunk; show and place `barbed wire/candle'

God, make me an instrument of your peace.


6. - `My Ideals' from The Diary of Anne Frank


We have all heard of the young Anne Frank, whose diary distilled for us the tragic experience of the victims of war. Exposed to the most inhuman conditions and pain, she still refused to surrender her right to life and future, and she maintained her faith and her hope that good would overcome evil.

Reader: Peter Fisher; symbol - diary

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.

I see the world gradually turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us, too. I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, when I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end and that peace and tranquility will return again.

In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.

to trunk; show and place diary

God, make me an instrument of your peace.


Elizabeth: These words were found on the wall of a cellar in Cologne, Germany, where Jews hid from the Nazis:

     I believe,
     I believe in the sun,
     even when it is not shining.
     I believe in love,
     even when feeling it not.
     I believe in God
     even when God is silent.

A brief period of silence...

Elizabeth: Please stand, as you are able for a further act of remembrance:

     At the going down of the sun
     and in the morning, we will remember them.

A period of silence ...

Trumpet... The Last Post and Reveille....

Lillian lights tapers from Christ candle, speaks:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O God, and may perpetual light shine on them May the souls of the righteous, through your great mercy, rest in peace....

- hands tapers to two and all take turns lighting a candle; move back in silence.

Thanks to readers, participants and to the Worship Planning Team.
Copyright © 1998 - The Rev. Dr. Lillian Perigoe
Revised -- November 10, 1998

Please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing this resource.
Page © 2004 - 2005 - The Rev. Richard J. Fairchild

Further information on this ministry and the history of "Sermons & Sermon - Lectionary Resources" can be found at our Site FAQ.  This site is now associated with

Spirit Networks
1045 King Crescent
Golden, British Columbia
V0A 1H2