November seems to be the month for remembering.
All Souls at the beginning of the month is a chance to remember with thankfulness those whom we have loved but see no more.
And, of course, there is also our national act of Remembrance, on Remembrance Sunday. As the daughter of a man who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and the Korean War, I never fail to be moved as the poppies fall down from the roof of the Royal Albert Hall during the Festival of Remembrance. That remembrance is all the more poignant in our own day as the reality of war and its human cost is once again apparent. There will be services at war memorials and in churches across the diocese as we remember those who died fighting to protect us and bring peace and justice to our world, and we pray for those serving in our Armed Forces today.
Memories, and remembering, are such central parts of our personalities and character, and in many ways make up part of who we are. Being remembered is very important to us, and the thought that we might be forgotten can be heart-breaking. I often read these verses from Isaiah to people who are feeling lost and abandoned for any reason, or who are grieving the passing of years which means that all those whom they knew and loved, and who held the memories of them as younger people, have died:
God says, “‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16a)
For Christians, of course, the most significant act of remembering is when we come together to remember in bread and wine the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ willing sacrifice of himself on the cross for the sake of others is, for Christian believers, the ultimate expression of the self-giving love at the heart of God, when Christ’s hands were marked by the nails of the cross.
“Do this in remembrance of me.”
So in this season of Remembrance, as we remember with candles, poppies, or bread and wine, may we all take time to pause, reflect, and be thankful.
Ven Fiona Gibson
Archdeacon of Ludlow