'Remember, remember the 5th of November: gunpowder, treason and plot' as the old rhyme goes.
November is a month for remembering. It begins with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day on 1st and 2nd of November when we recall all those who've died and give thanks for their lives. We will be holding a Memorial Service at St Mary's on Sunday 5th November at 3pm when we gather together to thank God for our departed loved ones, to light a candle and say a prayer. If you would like us to include a name please contact us via the church website. Everyone is welcome to attend the service.
November 5th is also Bonfire night when we recall the foiled plot by Guy Fawkes and his coconspirators to blow up parliament. Gunpowder, which Fawkes and his companions planned to use for destruction, is used instead in fireworks to thrill those watching with spectacular displays.
Remembrance Day, 11th November, falls on a Saturday this year and you are invited to buy tickets for the Poppy Prom which will be held in St Mary's on Saturday evening. It is a very popular event, so book early to avoid disappointment! On Remembrance Sunday, 12th November the focus is on those who've lost their lives in war, serving their country both in the two World Wars and in more recent conflicts. On each of these occasions, we reflect on the past.
We continue to remember the events of the First World War one hundred years ago. Called the 'war to end all wars' the conflict was global, sucking in countries from Africa to Australia, from Europe to Asia. And it was war on an epic scale, causing millions of casualties and aff ecting an entire generation. The world changed forever in the aftermath of the First World War. Sadly, it was not the end to all wars. Today we are painfully aware of conflict in the Middle East which has repercussions for us here in Britain. So what is the value of remembering? Some people look back and only remember the good bits. This can be done even in relation to war.
A book published by the British Ministry of Information just after the end of the Second World War has been reissued. As one commentator remarks, it focuses on the successes and omits the failures. Sometimes, as we look back, we are in danger of looking through rose tinted spectacles.
The danger in remembrance is that we see only a selective picture and in comparison, the present seems a complex mix of good and bad. Some people find it easier to live in the past than in the present. But there is also a danger of living entirely in the present, without ever reflecting on the past.
Henry Ford, pioneer of the motor car, told the Chicago Tribune, 'History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present'. The problem with never looking back is that we're apt to repeat the mistakes of the past. And looking back, reflecting on past errors as well as past successes can enable us to learn the lessons of history and improve things in the present.
Remembering is important, but only if we are prepared to learn from the past and use those lessons to help create a better future.
Joy (Vicar of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough)
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About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.