At this time of the year, we move from creation-tide to remembrance. We, along with people throughout the world, will remember all of those who have given their lives in the service of others in warfare. It is sad to think that there are still wars raging within the world even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The lessons of the two world wars have not been heeded. Yet Remembrance Sunday gives us an opportunity to reflect once again, and to pray earnestly for peace.
This year our act of remembrance will take place in the main Holy Communion service, which will be at 10:30am in church on Sunday November 8th (There will not be a 09:30 or 10:50am service in church.) There is a great sense of our being united, as church and nation, on Remembrance Sunday—race, creed and religion seem, at least for a moment, to be unimportant. The united act of remembrance is enough in itself, as we stop and pause in silence.
Within the Church’s calendar, we also remember those who have died. The feasts of All Souls and All Saints point towards those who have gone before us—those whom we have known and loved, along with those saints which the Church celebrates.
Death confronts us all at some point in our lives, even if it is only our own—we can never shrug it off lightly. As a priest and your vicar, I live with the daily reality of those who I know to be mourning or grieving, who I hold in prayer in my heart. Then there are those painful anniversaries which we have to embrace, whether we like it or not… The reality is that we so often feel and live with the pain and sorrow of parting. My training incumbent used to say: ‘We pray for those whose grief is sharp and new and for those who know the dull ache of ancient sorrow’—a prayer I often use. It’s natural to grieve, in fact, it’s necessary. But as Christians we do not grieve hopelessly in the face of death. Our faith tells us that death is not annihilation. Death is not the end of the story, but the beginning of a new and fuller life, promised to those who trust in Christ’s promises. Our baptism is our promise of resurrection, the sign of the cross which marks us out and makes us distinct, each special, each known by name.
As we remember those who have gone before us, whether their deaths are as a result of war or illness; or those blessed saints, we can do so in the knowledge that our Lord has overcome death and brings light into the darkness of our lives.
Father of all, we pray for those we love but see no longer. Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.