Monday, November 13, 2006

Remembrance Sunday
Many thanks to all who contributed to our Remembrance Sunday service this year. The British Legion, as ever, turned out in force - reading the lessons, parading standards and laying wreaths. Seal's firefighters were there too, sitting, as always in the back pew, so they could make a swift exit if they were called out! The Parish Council was represented - many thanks to them for organising the cleaning of the war memorial, which now gleams brilliant white! There was also an exhibition put together by Marie Bloss and Colin Milligan, of their researches into the names on our war memorial, giving a little more of the stories of the individuals behind the names and what had happened to them.
The "home team" did us proud too, with a lovely anthem from the choir, and arrangements of poppies from the flower arrangers.

This is a difficult time of year for many - raising painful personal memories, and painful questions too about the rights and wrongs of war. People come with many different memories and agendas; there are ex-servicemen and women, those who lost relatives in times of conflict, and those whose direct experience of war is limited to news reports. There are all shades of political opinion around too, especially about current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Remembrancetide, it seems to me, is a time for silence, rather than speech, a time to be reticent about attempting to provide easy answers to these questions. Each person needs space to listen to what is going on inside their own hearts, and to listen for the voice of God which calls us each in different ways to help in the building of his kingdom. It is a time when we should hear each others' stories and respect each others opinions and experiences, which is why I am so grateful for all the different contributions that were made to our observation of this Remembrance Sunday. I hope that everyone who came went away with something to think about which would help them go forward.

There has been much discussion in the press this year about the wearing of white poppies alongside or instead of red ones - a custom that goes back to the 1930s and which was started by men and women who had served in WW1 or lost husbands, sons and fathers in the struggle. You can read more here if you'd like more information - inevitably much of what is said in the press is headline grabbing and sensationalist, usually providing more heat than light! The history of the red poppy as a symbol of Remembrance is here as well as some other useful links. In my sermon on Remembrance Sunday I referred to the organisation Combat Stress, which helps service personnel who have mental health issues as a result of war. You can read more about them here.

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