Remembering – lest we forget
If there is one thing the British are good at its remembering; its part of our culture. Many of us grew up with events such as Remembrance Sunday and whether we think they glorify war or help us to remember with regret, we are very conscious of them. In other countries of the British Isles remembering who we are takes a different form – in Ireland, Sotland and Wales, the story of our national identity is told through songs and music and dancing. However we do it though, the themes are the same; stories of love, life and loss, of personal sacrifice, and now and again, the self centredness of a few. Of course when it comes to art and culture, none of these things are static. In the past few years we have had the wonderfully evocative play adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s book ‘Warhorse’ and, still touring the country, ‘The Wave’, thousands of ceramic poppies, originally displayed in the Tower of London to commemorate the dead of the First World War.
Just as culture continues to evolve however, so do our international relationships and the threat of war remains very real. This last weekend saw the horrific attacks in Paris; for many families their whole lives will be an act of remembrance of that night.
So what does it mean to remember? Literally it’s a putting back together; and we do it all the time; family holidays, graduations, births, christening and weddings, those events which are punctuation marks in our lives and which remind us that we are loved.
Whilst neither the Christian Faith nor the Church have a monopoly on remembering, an act of remembering lies at the heart of our faith and our worship. Every Sunday and most Wednesday’s here at St Clements Church, as in other churches of the Church of England we remember that God, in the person of Jesus, showed such love that he was willing to lay down his life for his friends (and everyone is welcome to come and join in). And what came out of that was a realisation that love is always more powerful than hate, and that goodness and love will always rise again, to bring hope to the next generation. One interpretation of the event that is Remembrance Sunday is that all war is failure, failure of human beings to find loving and peaceful ways to resolve their disputes, failure to share what we have in the interests of the common good, failure to see in ourselves and each other the potential for good. By remembering the tragedy of lives lost and honouring what they gave, we strengthen our resolve to ensure it does not happen again. At least, that was the original idea.
As a church we pray that the world will find a peaceful way of negotiating the current situation of terrorism, and that Love will always prevail. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris, Beirut, Nigeria, and all countries torn apart by war and civil strife.