Thoughts on Remembrance Sunday

Dear Church Family

They say that what goes around comes around and that has proved true of 2020 lockdowns.

I include with this email a timely call to prayer from our Archbishops.

As I write, the world is once again in turmoil, not just because lockdown starts tomorrow, but also because America is waiting to see who her president will be, with no clear outcome as yet. Commentators are bemoaning a divided nation and seeing parallels with our own nation,

Europe is rocked by extremist terrorism and Turkey is digging people out of earthquake devastation.

A tough week.

With that as a backdrop we come once again to Remembrance Sunday. The plan for up to 30 of us to share a short service in church has become a victim of lockdown but a very small group of us will still be able to mark the occasion and lay wreathes at the memorial. It is more important than ever that we remember. Decent courageous human beings have always been ready to show the ultimate expression of love by putting their lives on the line in the face of evils that would have destroyed the things they (and we) hold dear. The classic bible passage that helps us reflect on this is John 15: –

(John 15:9)  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

(10)  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

(11)  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

(12)  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

(13)  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

(14)  You are my friends if you do what I command.

(15)  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

(16)  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

(17)  This is my command: Love each other.

One challenge we all face over the next month. (or however long), is how to show love and support when we can have little physical contact with those we love most. There is no easy way to approach that challenge other than the age old ‘love always finds a way’. Modern ways include social media and ‘Zoom’. The traditional way for soldiers has been love letters. Maybe, like Carol and I, you saw a recent programme where a granddaughter found a leather pouch containing love letters written by her grandfather to her grandmother. The letters were full of gentle intimacy, powerful words that were read over and over again, words of hope and longing that looked forward to their marriage on the soldier’s return.

Our own village memorial contains the names of real people with real hopes and dreams, dreams that did not reach fulfilment because of ‘the greater love’ they showed. For their sake, and for the sake of all those we love, let us find creative ways to send messages of support to our loved ones (made distant by another season of lockdown).

I am currently working on my development review and role description as all clergy are required to do every two years. Amazingly it’s the third time I have done this at Tollerton. It is a good exercise and I always find it helpful. My role description, drawn up under diocesan guidelines extends to 780 words. Jesus is more economic; he gives all his followers a 17 word role description

I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—

The lasting fruit of the eight men we will remember at the memorial on Sunday is our current freedom. What will our fruit be as we seek to give our lives, our time and our energy for those we love?

May God help us to be a blessing and bear lasting fruit.