Rev. John Collard (our Interim Minister)

Dear Friends,

Remembrance

The last soldiers went ‘over the top’ at 4.20am on 11th November 1918. The Armistice was signed at 5.00am in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne, France, and so at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918 the guns at last fell silent. On that morning alone there were 10,944 casualties and 2,738 deaths on the western front.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and at events up and down this country and across Europe, we will reflect again on the tragedy and waste of war as well as the heroism and sacrifice of many.

Because it is now one hundred years ago, it has passed out of living memory. But it is important that it remains in the communal memory so that neither the tragedy, nor the heroism, is forgotten. That communal memory is sustained by story and by ritual, as well as by the physical reminders of the war memorials in our towns and cities. And so we participate in the Remembrance routines in order to preserve that communal memory.

As Christians, our faith is rooted in events that happened not 100 years ago, but 2000 years ago and yet the communal memory of those events is cherished and retained by the Christian community. The eye witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are long gone, although we have their written records in the New Testament. As with the First World War, the communal memory of the Christian faith is retained through story and through ritual, as well as by the physical reminders of church buildings, cathedrals, and wayside shrines. Every time we gather for worship and read and reflect on the Bible, we are deliberately bringing to consciousness the events and the teaching which feeds that communal memory. Our celebrations of communion, when we share bread and wine, trace a direct line of history back to the words and practise of Jesus himself.

But there is one very important difference. The Holy Spirit! In John 14:26, Jesus makes a link between the work of the Holy Spirit and our communal memory. He says ‘The Holy Spirit .. will remind you of everything I have said to you.’ Christian faith has a clear focus on the historical events of the past, and an equally clear focus on the present reality of God’s presence and peace in our lives today. Past remembrance plays a big part in faith, and so does present experience. The guidance of God comes not just from the wisdom of the ages, but in the heat of our everyday struggles and dilemmas right now.

As our minds turn to the history of 100 years ago, may we know the immediacy of God’s presence in our homes and our church.

John Collard

Interim Minister