November – winter is falling upon us although haven’t we been blessed with some marvellous October-sunshine? But now, the clocks have gone back and the nights draw in. Woolly jumpers, hats and scarves will come out and we almost have permission to indulge in the comforting task of supping piping hot-chocolate with cake at the side (well, in my dreams, anyway!)
November – we now leave behind the autumnal harvest thanksgiving and make our way on to Advent, that time of preparation leading up to the Christmas season. But for the church, there is a rich story of life in all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows in between these landmarks. It is a time of remembering.
The first November-landmark is All Saints – a celebration we remember on the first Sunday, where we can take heart, celebrate, and remember that we are indeed not alone, but are part of a communion of saints who have gone before; not just the ‘big’ saints, but the little, ordinary saints – those men and women with extraordinary faith and love who can help us along and lift us in spirit through times of doubt, worry and sorrow.
We then journey on and take the time at All Souls – 2nd November – to reflect and remember those who we love and who have departed this earthly life, trusting in their peace and rest in God’s eternal life and love, of which we are all a part.
We will be gathering at St Peter’s for our service where we remember our dear-departed (7th Nov) finding strength and hope in the fact that sharing these poignant and difficult times can often help us feel less isolated, that we are not walking this journey along, that we are in solidarity with many who are experiencing the same struggles and experiences that comes with the territory of being human.
Next point of call, of course, is Remembrance Sunday, (14th Nov) when we honour the memory of those who have died during both world wars and beyond into present day conflict, and for St Peter’s especially, those who came from Wrecclesham. Our local uniformed organisations and people will gather to remember and to share hopes and prayers for peace and to lay wreaths at the village memorial in memory.
We also gather at the Memorial on 11th November where the bell will toll and we will remember them….
This year we will share our remembering – expressing our solidarity as we are invited to chalk poppies outside our gates – and to make a felt poppy to add to the poppy blanket that lays in front of the church – or display painted pebbles on the grass around the blanket (red chalk and felt pieces/instructions will be available at St Peter’s Church from 1st November)
This remembering season is where the emotional trauma of loss, sadness and grief is acknowledged, shared and hopefully transformed into some kind of hope that is enriched through collective comforting. A remembering spirit can be a cathartic one – not only does it recall important memories that we want not to forget, but it is also about putting pieces back together.
Re-membering – putting together that which is broken in relationships and other life-experiences that are in need of healing and reconciling whether they be global wars or more localised conflicts within families or communities – or indeed with ourselves.
When honest and vulnerable pain is met with a humble reaching out to each other for comfort and strength, it is there in trust we can find the way towards healing and wholeness, whether it be through the comforting word or touch from a friend, a hymn or piece of scripture or poetry that touches the heart, or a funny word or two, amidst the tears, over a shared cuppa and a biscuit.
We all hurt at some point, and we all need to be touched and soothed by the spirit healing, comfort and strength.
The Christian faith believes that God also meets us in our remembering and need in something called the ‘anamnesis’ – the ‘re-presenting’. This is a remembering that can be experienced in the sharing of Holy Communion together as we live out week by week the actions and words of Jesus witnessed by his disciples at the Last Supper, calling us to remember him and to love one another and to ‘do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God’ – drawing together our lives and faith in love and solidarity with all – of other faiths or no faith – as we journey on in the comforting, strengthening and hopeful light of Christ…
However you live out your remembering, may your November journey of remembering be rich in peace and hope – and in the company of friends…
Remember me when I am gone away,
gone far away into the silent land.
when you can no more hold me by the hand,
nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
you tell me of our future that you planned:
only remember me; you understand
it will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
and afterwards remember, do not grieve;
for if the darkness and corruption leave
a vestige of the thought that once I had,
better by far you should forget and smile
than that you should remember and be sad.
Psalm 121 – hope…
I look to the mountains; where will my help come from?
My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake.
The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps.
The Lord will guard you; he is by your side to protect you.
The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night.
The Lord will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe.
8 He will protect you as you come and go now and forever.
Read more clergy letters.