The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Joy Cousans, Vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since June 2017
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Vicar's Letter

November 2023

Reverend Joy Cousans, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

November comes at a time of year when the leaves are falling, the days are growing shorter and the weather is usually getting colder. Although, as I write this in October we are experiencing some of the warmest October temperatures on record! November is often seen as a time of remembrance. It begins with All Saints' Day on 1st November when the church has traditionally given thanks for the lives of all the many saints who have brightened the world with their good and sometimes quirky lives. The following day, All Souls on 2nd November is when we recall all those who have died and give thanks for their lives.

Bonfire night on November 5th is much less celebrated now than when I was a child. But it marks a significant historical moment in our nation's history. In 1605, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were thwarted in their plot to blow up parliament and to kill King James 1. 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. 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. This year we will meet at the war memorial in Edlesborough to commemorate the fallen in Eaton Bray, Northall and Edlesborough. There will be a separate Act of Remembrance in Dagnall. Both services will begin at 10.45am and you are all invited to attend. The uniformed organisations will be represented and wreaths will be laid by many of the village groups.

On the afternoon of Remembrance Sunday, we will be holding a Memorial Service at St Mary's Eaton Bray at 3pm. This will be an opportunity to gather together to thank God for our departed loved ones, to light a candle and say a prayer. If you would like to attend and to include a name to be read out, please contact me via the church website. During the service we will read out the names of all those for whom we have taken funerals, memorial services or interment of ashes services over the past two years, as well as the names of loved ones who have passed away and are on our list. The service will be followed by tea and cakes.

So what is the value of remembering? Sometimes, as we look back, we are in danger of looking through rose-tinted spectacles. The danger 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.

Every blessing,

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 area for these.