Reflections - Rector's Letter
Remembering and looking forward:
100 years on is a key moment. The fact that 100 years ago, at 11am on 11th November War ended, is a moment that has shaped our recent history and will reshape our remembering this year. This moment is so significant because it marks the end of four years of unimaginable horror. The ending does not take away the horror of all that went before but the fact of an ending in the face of that horror is a light in the darkness, a point of positive change and something to welcome rather than mourn.
I wonder how you have been thinking about all this?
I wonder in what way you have a sense that this time of remembrance is different from previous years?
Remembrance as we have done it is deeply significant and important. The national “There but not there” programme reminds us not only of the sacrifice of those who died, but how our lives now are different because so many people were removed from our ancestors’ communities! What would the world look like now, if all those people had lived to old age and played an active part in our communities in the years that were taken from them? There is as ever a reconnection with very painful and deep loss in the life of our families and our nation. The way this underlines the need for us to work for peace now, in every way we can, is very present. Ending does not take away the severity of what happened and the importance of giving ourselves to the work of stopping it happening again, but it does come along side all this with different insights.
For me, this all asks if there are other endings we need to embrace in order to move forward positively, in some way like the movement from war to peace?
100 years on, what does healthy, good and life giving remembrance look like?
How does it look different to what has gone before?
Is it possible that some of our past remembering has kept us locked into hopelessness and the futility of war in such a way that holds us back and drags us down?
100 years on, what would those valiant men and women say, if they saw us continue remembering in the way we have?
Yes, to be remembered and not forgotten is valuable, but 100 years on, how does that remembrance shift, and what does it look like when we also take hold of the reality of an ending which was undoubtedly a positive event?
In some cultures there are strictly observed times of mourning and clear points, say after a year, seven years or ten years, where mourning ends, where there is a sense that those who have died have been fully honoured, that a significant job is complete and that going forwards life can be lived differently again, in a way that is set free from the weight of grief and mourning, but is respectful and healthy too.
What might this look like for us here and now?
As we continue to remember in a way that is fitting, are there also things that it is time to lay down and see differently?
In the life of Jesus, we see life lived in a way we can often recognise for a time, we then see a painful and challenging death, but this is not the end point. Three days after the death we see resurrection, NEW life, light after darkness, hope for the future and so much more! When the disciples meet Jesus after he is risen, his body still bares the wounds, but they have lost their power to take life away, indeed the new life that comes after the fatal wounding is so much more fully alive than before!
As we remember AND engage with the reality of positive endings, may Jesus inspire and enable us to live all this well, and help each other to grow through it together.
With much hope,