We are nearing the end of the current church year, and as we go through November we are beginning to get ready for Advent and the new year which begins on Advent Sunday.
With the arrival of autumn, it’s also a month in which we take stock of all that has happened over the past year – it’s the season of Remembrance. Some of you will look back on a good summer, a celebration, a new beginning, and for you it may come naturally to give thanks to God for all the blessings he has given us. For others, this past year may have been difficult and you may look back on tough times or suffer sadness and grief at the loss of someone you love. Many families in our benefice have suffered bereavements and I have had the sad privilege to have been asked to be alongside them to share their grief and to try to bring hope and comfort at a time of loss.
With the nights drawing in, this is a difficult time of the year and many dread the Christmas season when everyone is expected to be jolly. Someone once said to me, “God gave us smiles to express our happiness, and he gave us tears to express our sadness.” When we lose someone we love, we will shed tears because we are sad, but I have often heard people apologise when they cry as if they felt they had behaved in an inappropriate way. When we grieve, we need to express our emotions, but sadly this is often perceived as a sign of weakness or lack of self-control. This month we will have several opportunities to remember those who have died and many of us will shed tears. As I write this, I have just experienced the first anniversary of my mum’s death and in early October I lost a very dear friend, so it has been a difficult time for me as well. After the death of his beloved wife, C.S. Lewis wrote: “An odd by-product of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet.”
On Sunday 3rd November we have all Saints’ Day when we remember Christian martyrs and all those who have been faithful Christians. In the afternoon we have our annual All Souls’ Day service and everyone is warmly invited, whether you have been bereaved recently or longer ago, or you just want to come and remember a friend or someone you knew. We light candles and it is OK to shed tears; it’s an important part of the grieving process. On Sunday 10th November we have Remembrance Sunday in both our churches and we honour those who have died in wars and conflicts in the service of our country, and we pray for peace in a world where wars sadly still continue. The world could have been a very different place for us without their sacrifice, which cannot and should not be forgotten. At 10.45am we will gather round the War Memorials in Great Barton and Thurston and in our commemorations and prayers we join with churches all over the country and abroad as we say the familiar words “We will remember them”.
I want to finish with one of the beautiful poems of Malcolm Guite:
Silence – A sonnet for Remembrance Day
November pierces with its black remembrance
Of all the bitterness and waste of war.
Our silence tries but fails to make a semblance
Of that lost peace they thought worth fighting for.
Our silence seethes instead with wraiths and whispers, And all the restless rumours of new wars,
The shells are falling all around our vespers No moment is unscarred, there is no pause, In every instant bloodied innocence
Falls to the weary earth, and whilst we stand Quiescence ends again in acquiescence, And Abel’s blood still cries in every land. One silence only might redeem that blood Only the silence of a dying God.
Yours in Christ, Rev’d Manette
Rev’d Manette Crossman, Vicar of Great Barton and Thurston
Tel. 01284 787554 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org