The Lay Reader's Letter (written by Gordon Gray) extends the tradition of the Vicar's Letter which has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Lay Reader's Letter

November 2010

It is 65 years since the end of World War II and, on Remembrance Sunday, 14th November, we will stand in silence, as we have done for the previous 64 years, in memory of the men and women who gave their lives in that and other conflicts around the world. We will use the words of Laurence Binyon's wonderful poetry:

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them."

It is right that we should remember them and recall the sacrifice of those killed in war, for many of you reading this will have had family members killed or seriously wounded in one of the World Wars. Remembrance Sunday is held in their memory and for the memory of those from thousands of villages like ours; I hope you will purchase a poppy and wear it with pride.

Young men from our villages marched innocently to war in 1914 and 1939, proud to serve in defence of those they loved, but they soon experienced the unspeakable horrors of war - neither my grandfather, nor my father ever talked about what they had seen or done. These honourable young men surely could not have imagined that, after the end of the war, in 1945, there would follow 65 years in each of which members of the British armed forces have fought and been killed on active service overseas nor that the total number of people killed in the wars of the twentieth century would be around 160 million.

So on Remembrance Sunday maybe we should also reflect on war today. We are told that these will be primarily fought over resources - water, oil or other mineral wealth - as in Yemen, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and other countries. Around 6 million people have been killed, and many more displaced, in fighting in and around the Democratic Republic of Congo over mineral resources valued at $24 trillion whilst, only in June 2010, a survey estimated the value of mineral resources in Afghanistan to be over $1 trillion. Little wonder that the major powers have been fighting there since 1979, with the deaths of around 2 million people. It seems there are people who believe it acceptable to use brutal violence to take what they want from the poor and weak to satisfy national and corporate greed. As G K Chesterton once wrote "It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem."

Jesus was born into a peasant family in a country ravaged and impoverished by occupation of the great empire of his day, Rome - he wouldn't be surprised by today's wars, just dismayed that his teaching had been ignored and distorted. As we remember the fallen dead from the last century we might ask "What is more important today, human greed or human life?".

-- Gordon, Reader at St Mary's Eaton Bray


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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.