Each year I feel more challenged by the main service on Remembrance Sunday than about any other service in the year. The church is full, with 750 people attending. And that's great - I wouldn't want it any other way. But those 750 people bring with them a whole range of different hopes and expectations.
Some come to remember their own service, and those they served alongside. They are full of feelings ... memories of friends and comrades, of what they experienced together, pride at what their service achieved, thankfulness or guilt that they themselves survived. Others haven't experienced war themselves, but come to remember the service of their own family members. They too have a mix of emotions ... sadness for those who died of course, and often for the impact that the war had on the home when they returned. Pride too that their loved ones have played a part.
Some come with no direct connection to war and military service. Their feelings can be very diverse ...at one end of the scale pride in a nation that has faced up to responsibilities regardless of the cost; at the other, horror at what a nation's stance means in terms of human suffering. Some believe war can be just; some believe war can never be just.
It isn't possible to leave all these different people, with their different perspectives and expectations, satisfied. When I preach my sermon I won't be able to please everyone. But then as a minister that's not what I'm here for. Instead I'm here to preach God's Word as I understand and believe it, and to help people engage with that.
I hope that everyone who comes to this year's Remembrance Sunday service will find something that helps them, whatever reasons for being there, whatever the emotions the occasion stirs up. I hope that something of God's Word can reach them ... whether it brings them comfort, or brings them challenge.