As I think I pointed out last year, November is a month of remembrance, and as I pondered this I was reminded of a scene from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’.
I know there are many memorable scenes, but the one that came to mind was the one where Reg, the leader of the People’s Front of Judea, asks, “What have the Roman’s done for us?” Of course, the replies come thick and fast and the scene ends with Reg saying, “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water
system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
So back to November, the month of remembering. We begin with All Saints Day (on the 1st), All Souls Day (on the 2nd) and Remembrance Sunday (which this year falls on the 10th).
So, let’s begin with the last one first. The original commemoration of Armistice Day was established on the actual day when the war on the Western Front ceased in 1918. I don’t believe there is now anyone left who can recall that moment, but as a nation it seems right that we should remember those who fought and died in 1914-18 as well as, of course, the many fallen in later wars. I think Remembrance Sunday has taken on a new life in the light of the losses of servicemen and women in Afghanistan.
One does not have to agree with any particular – or indeed, any – war to recognise that those in the services have followed orders, put themselves in danger’s way, and in some cases paid with their lives or their health. We only need to look around at the freedom we experience to answer the question “What have these men and women done for us?” By remembering them on this one Sunday a year we show our thanks and, in part, repay our debts as a nation to all who have fought for this country. It also provides a genuine comfort to families who mourn loved ones.
Do join us at our service on the 10th. We begin in church at 10:15 and will hold a short Service of remembrance at the War Memorial at 11:00am. There will also be a short service on the Monday, November 11th at 11:00am, again at the memorial.
All Saints Day
All Saints Day should not be seen as a sad occasion. The church colours for the day are white or gold, the same colours worn at Christmas and Easter. This day is the church’s opportunity to ask “What have the Saints done for us?” and in doing so we recall the many great Christians of the past, both known and unknown, who have helped promote our faith. People like Saint Chad, who worked tirelessly to bring God’s love to people in the North East and in what was Mercia.
All Souls Day
Perhaps more relevant is someone like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the few German Christians prepared to stand up and oppose Hitler, for which he paid with his life. All Souls Day is a day to remember everyone who has died. Not just the famous but our mothers and fathers, our aunts and uncles and for some who mourn, their children. We ask, what have they done for us, and remember with joy and sorrow lives that have had a great impact on our own. All Souls, then, is a day when we can remember those we have loved, secure in the knowledge that God also remembers them.
On Sunday November 3rd there will be the opportunity to speak of the people we love once again, to pray for them, and – if you would like – to light a candle in their memory. There is a list at the back of church but if you would like someone remembered then please give me a ring or send me an email, tweet or message via Facebook.