|Remembrance Day was celebrated at St James Cathedral on Sunday 13 Nov 2011 by Archbishop Ian Ernest in the presence of the the President of Mauritius Sir Anerood Jugnauth and H E Navin Ramgoolam the PM and many dignitaries . He prays for the prevalence of peace in the world in his sermon.
November 14, 2011
[Diocese of Mauritius - Indian Ocean] Remembrance Sunday Service - 13th November 2011
Sermon of the Most Revd Ian Ernest
PRAYER: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, who art my strength and my redeemer, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
As we meet to mark Remembrance Day, one of our main acts this morning is to pray for the prevalence of Peace in the world we live in. But, above all, it is to uphold the memory of those who have given their lives for the cause of liberation from the grips of injustice, and aggression.
Those we remember gave their lives for a greater good, the great cause of freedom. We do not, at least in our country, face the threat of tyranny they faced, although those in far too many parts of the world do. It is, however, an appropriate moment to reflect on those problems and I think not least of Zimbabwe, where the Anglican Church is being persecuted along with so many other parts of that society. But closer to home, it also makes us think of those basic foundations of society that we need to consolidate if we are really serious about progressing as a nation. If a spirit of justice, of respect, of peace, of reconciliation is not entertained within the framework of nationhood, then the world we live in is not truly human and is thus unable to cater effectively for our welfare.
The related reason for us meeting here, then, is to draw on our spiritual resources to identify a moral and spiritual vision for our societies which we can express to others in all freedom. But, before I set out in detail the necessity for all of us, without exception, to strive for a truly human world which is strong enough to sustain a peaceful environment, I would like to extend to all of you a very warm welcome. May I also respectfully present my salutations to His Excellency the President and Lady Jugnauth, the Honourable Prime Minister and Mrs Ramgoolam, the Deputy Prime Minister and Mrs Beebeejaun, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Berenger, the highly-esteemed members of the Ex-Servicemen’s Association, the members of the diplomatic corps and the leaders of other religious denominations.
Without any pretension to suggest that religious authorities have the right to impose their lines of thinking, it is important, as I stressed in the letter “The Call of the Clarion”, addressed to my fellow citizens in February this year, that we religious leaders set an example and identify ideas that will help people from all walks of life to rediscover ethical behaviour at all levels of society. It was a cry from the heart, calling on each individual to take responsibility and act in such a way as to make a difference for the benefit of a nation that can fight the strong winds of a corrupted and greedy mentality, a mentality which minimises the basic rights of people. We are all equal in the eyes of God. It is our duty to remind ourselves that the religious components of our nation should be a force for good. Our prophetic voice can be of major importance for the survival of our humanity.
The extract read to us this morning from the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament is inspiring as it instructs us on how to behave as people sharing the same destiny.
I quote: “This is what the Almighty says: Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien, the poor. In your hearts do no think evil of each other.”
As I speak to you, I have no wish to join the political arena but to compel us, as people living in this land, which our forefathers coming from various continents have adopted as theirs, to be enriched and enlightened by the wisdom which a knowledge of God confers on us. Abraham Lincoln, one of the most gifted political leaders that the world has known, was right when he said that we should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God’s side. In the history of many nations, and we can witness to it even to-day, there are two ways that religion has been brought into public life. The first way – God on our side – leads inevitably to triumphalism, self-righteousness, bad theology, and often dangerous foreign policy. The second way – asking if we are on God’s side – leads to much healthier things, namely repentance, humility, reflection and even accountability. We need more of all these, and as Jim Wallis, a protestant lobbyist in Washington, says in his book God’s Politics,” These are often the missing values of politics.”
As clearly spelt out in the Gospel of Matthew as read to us earlier, the way to behave in order to alleviate injustice, poverty and discrimination is to be obedient to the teachings of Christ, who is the Lord and Saviour of the world. I quote: -
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Friends, a journalist who commented in an interview on my letter the Call of the Clarion said that religions have been forces not just for good but often for its opposite. He may be right but I did mention at the end of the letter that we all have an individual responsibility to make a difference. There are too many ways that we have all failed. What is important is that the voice of wisdom which brings peace, justice, equal opportunities, forgiveness, reconciliation and social and political stability is to be honoured and valued. Wisdom is from God and we people of faith believe that a nation perishes from a lack of counselors. So I urge, in all humility, our political leaders to be attentive to the Call of the Clarion, which comes from deep within the hearts of people who belong to God. It is a Call upheld by the Council of Religions of this country. This body is working towards establishing a code of ethics. It has spoken on the desirability of the re-introduction into our National Curriculum framework of ethics, civics, comparative religion and the setting up of a Social Advisory group with clearly defined targets. This group should reach out to families, educational institutions and the workplace, so that it can inform people of the needs and the plight of this nation. This will indeed help all stakeholders in our society devise policies to promote a truly human society that can be peaceful and strong.
We believe that any political issue is also a religious one and this is why we should encourage our nation not to ignore the religious values that have helped it to become a model in the world to which we belong. As a Christian, I always measure our country’s policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values. I am called to look at policies to see whether they enhance human life, human dignity and human rights; whether they strengthen family life and protect children; whether they promote and support communal and gender equality; whether they serve peace and social justice and whether they advance the common good rather than only individual or self-vested interests.
We believe, and this is true of all religions, that:
(1) Poverty – that is caring for the poor and vulnerable – is a
religious issue. The Prophet Isaiah denounces those who turn
aside the needy from justice and who rob people of their rights.
Woe to those who do such things, he says.
We believe that:
(2) The Environment is also a religious issue as we are called to care for God’s creation. It is also our responsibility to see to it that policies are being implemented to protect God’s creation and that they do not serve interests that pollute and destroy it.
We believe that:
(3) War and our call to be peacemakers is a religious issue. We have to encourage our leaders to cooperate, for without respect for law it is impossible to build a peaceful and strong society. In the words attributed to Jesus Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
We believe that:
(4) Telling the truth is a religious issue. It helps to eliminate doubtful dealings, for the prevalence of honesty and integrity promotes trust. Corruption at all levels is an evil that undermines society. Local events this year have increased confusion and social instability. Without truth, trust which binds a nation together fades away. As children of God, truth should guide our footsteps. I do pray that all of us, if we are practicing believers as we claim to be, stand up together to fight the evils of corruption and bring truth into the broad daylight. If we do not do so, we shall all be responsible for the death of our nation.
So, to build up a human society which is peaceful and strong, we call Christians, those of different faiths, and others to a more thoughtful involvement in the life of the world we live in. An involvement that helps to overcome the barriers that we erect to protect our own interests. If we are not involved, civil unrest threatens and our serenity will be lost.
Brothers and sisters let us hear what Micah says in the Bible:
He has shown you, O Man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.
May the Lord bless you all! Amen.