A letter from the Vicarage – Rev’d Andy Stand
Season of Remembrance
November is a month for remembering. “Remember, remember the 5th of November …” But it’s not only the 5th of November that gives us an opportunity to pause, reflect and remember. We begin the month with All Saints’ Day (1st Nov), and All Saints’ Tide, when we remember, as one of the Church of England websites has it, “those Christians who have died who we don’t know personally”; and then there is All Souls Day (2nd) when we remember all those we do know who have died.
At St. Mark’s on 5th November at 6.30 p.m. we will be holding our annual All Souls Memorial service.
And of course there is Remembrance Sunday, when we remember those who have given their lives in war, and in the service of this country.
What shall we remember, I wonder, as together we keep the two minutes silence, on Sunday 12th or wherever we happen to be the day before, for Armistice Day itself?
Maybe images that we have seen over the course of the year on our television screens, from documentaries, or dramas, or even just those iconic final scenes from the Ben Elton, comedy Blackadder Goes Forth.
We will think about war, or wars. There are very few of us still alive who can actually remember the First World war. My own earliest memories of a war, are of the Falklands conflict, though of course I can also remember the times when our soldiers were serving, and being killed, in Northern Ireland. Many of you will remember these as well, and other wars before and since. We are very much mindful at this time of the deployment of forces against Islamic State. Our armed forces continue to serve, continue to put their lives at risk to defend the interests of our nation. We pray for them. We remember them, as we remember and pray for those who have gone before them into battle on our behalf.
Let me ask another question, not what will we remember, but how? I have already mentioned the keeping of the two minutes silence, that is one way. I trust that there may be other ways.
Over recent years Service of Remembrance I have been involved with have sometimes finished with an act of Commitment, as those present pledge themselves ‘anew to the service of God and our fellow men and women’. We pledge to help, encourage and comfort others, support those working for the relief of the needy and for the welfare of the nations.
The keeping of that pledge would be a second ‘how’ of remembering.
In our communion services, just as we begin the communion part of the service, we share ‘the peace’, when we shake hands or hug or kiss one another as a sign of peace. Sometimes I use words of invitation: ‘Let us pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life’.
A further, ‘how’ would be to pursue all that makes for ‘Peace’; and to start with ourselves: To examine ourselves and see where we are quick to get angry; where we allow our own hurts to become resentments and sources of division; and where we allow our fears and prejudices to hold too much sway in our thinking; and then to hand these to God in prayer, asking for courage, as well as His grace and guidance to pursue all that builds up, rather than divides, that we may see better God’s image both in our neighbours around us and in ourselves.
This Remembrance Season, let us pray for peace, and pray that God will start with us.
May God bless us all.