November is a sombre month, as the darkness draws in, the trees stand bare, and the mornings are clouded in mist. It is a time of remembering. The children may cry "Please to remember the fifth of November ...", but there are a number of other and more significant days of remembering for all of us.
The second Sunday, the Sunday nearest to the eleventh day of the eleventh month, is a time for remembering those who fell in the defence of freedom, not only in two World Wars, but also in all the lesser conflicts which have shattered nations and peoples since. We look backwards to honour those who gave lives in war, but we must also look forwards to keep faith with them and use our energies to build the sort of world that they held dear. There is an old saying that "those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it" – that is why it is important for all of us to remember, and to pray that the world's rulers and statesmen may make wise and honourable decisions on behalf of their peoples. There will be a special service of remembrance for all our villages at the Eaton Bray War Memorial at 10.45am on Remembrance Sunday, and the Sung Eucharist will begin that day at 9.30am.
Remembrance Sunday comes just after the Church's special period of remembrance. All Saints' Day (November 1) commemorates all the unsung heroes of Christian discipleship, the ordinary men and women of every age who have been faithful and loving in their service of God and their fellows. They are our inspiration to persevere in what we believe to be true and good and noble, especially when things get tough for us. Within the Christian family they remind us too that life in Christ endures beyond physical death, and our fellowship with those we love is not severed when we die.
Within this communion of saints we pause to recall with loving reverence our own loved ones who have died. For many people All Souls' Day (November 2) is a very precious, if poignant, time of remembrance, and we shall mark this by a special celebration of the Eucharist at 10.00am.
One way in which we express our continuing love and respect for those who have died is by preserving their values and sharing their vision. There is much in the world today that causes us deep concern and anxiety, and the shadow of war hangs over so many lands. When Pope John Paul II visited this country, his address at Coventry included these words, "War should belong to the tragic past, to history; it should find no place on humanity's agenda for the future." Twenty years on they are still a salutary reminder to us all. That is why we pause to remember – and consecrate ourselves to a new future of peace and justice for all.
May God bless you all, and give you His peace. MALCOLM
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.