A View From The Vicarage, November 2017
“Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot...”
Those well known words from the rhyme about Guy Fawkes Night encapsulate the national mood as we enter the gloomy month of November. For many of us it can seem like a somewhat empty month – the beautiful jewelled colours of autumn fade into the dull duns and browns of damp, wet and mist. The crispness of winter lies ahead with the glories and joys of Christmas just out of reach. November can almost feel in a phrase attributed to C.S. Lewis as “a waiting time of a world”. Yet into this general gloom and nothingness bursts the exploding fireworks of Guy Fawkes and the poppies of remembrance.
It seems to me that the commercialization of November 5th as of so much else has denuded it of the reality of how the celebration actually began. Let’s be quite honest victory for the Gunpowder Plotters or defeat in 1918 and/or 1945 would have fundamentally altered the fabric and structure of the society in which we live and the history which we share. The rights and freedoms which have enshrined Britain as nations and peoples over the past centuries owe their very survival to the failure of extremists in the 16th and 17th Centuries and the defeat of tyrannous regimes in the 20th.
Are these moments just occasions when we recall historic events which have no relevance or bearing to the lives which we live now and thus little more than anarchistic custom? Clearly, in view of the foregoing, you’ll realise that I’m convinced that they are nothing of the sort. The bravery and courage of those who leave these shores to defend the cause of freedom in foreign fields should be an inspiration to us all and surely what such moments also remind us is that we need to be as valiant in our own way in the defence of the freedoms and liberties which we should cherish as were and are those astounding young men and women who have gone from here to fight and die in their “corner of a foreign field”.
After all as Christ himself reminds us as part of his Final Discourse in St. John’s Gospel: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
With my love and prayers and always