A View From The Vicarage, November 2016
As the longer and colder nights of November begin to embrace us, we also embark upon the season of remembrance beginning with All Saints and All Souls Days at the beginning of the month through, Guy Fawkes, Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day before concluding with the relatively modern feast of Christ the King at the month’s end, marking the end of another year in the Christian calendar.
It seems right and fitting that as the glorious, golden days of a somewhat elongated summer become an increasingly distant memory, our national mood assumes a mantle of introspection.
Given the time which has now elapsed since the horrors of World War One, remembering that now distant event is something that only a very few of our fellow citizens can do from their personal experience. And even those who still can were themselves only very small children at the time. Inevitably, therefore, those who actually knew those courageous young men who marched off to play their part in those catastrophic events across the sea reduces with each passing year.
For the majority of us, therefore, the nature of remembrance in the context of WW1 changes its nature quite markedly from those first observances in the years immediately after 1918. How can anyone “remember” something that they never knew and of which they have no personal experience? This was the same quandary which faced the early Christian Church some 19 centuries ago as those men and women who had actually known and lived with Christ gradually died themselves. Yet throughout the whole of the intervening centuries, individual Christians have come to know Christ, they’ve experienced his power and love in their lives, for some in extremely powerful and life-changing ways from St. Paul all the way down to you and me. Others who may not have had such a profound encounter may yet have experienced the changes wrought in the world through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Surely the same is true of our “remembrance”. We may not have known those brave souls who set off to fight in World War One or indeed those equally gallant men and women who fought in World War Two and in the conflicts that have followed since, but we can rejoice in the freedoms and liberties that their sacrifice bought for us at so great a cost. As we gather to remember them we should commit ourselves to cherishing those same freedoms which those gallant men and women fought to preserve. As you watch the smoke and the sparkle of Guy Fawkes we can give thanks for that nascent democracy which would have been utterly quenched if that audacious plot had succeeded. As the old rhyme puts it: “remember, remember” but let’s make a particular point this year of giving thanks for all those who have gone before, both those we remember personally and also those whose memories we ought to cherish.
With my love and prayers as ever