Remembrance
 
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REMEMBRANCE

November is a time for Remembrance. Last Sunday was Remembrance Sunday when we recalled the horrors of world wars and gave thanks for those whose lives were sacrificed, so that tyranny and oppression would not rule in our land. Some of us remembered those of our family, our friends, comrades and mates who died because of the folly of mankind .

This time of the year is also a time of some personal remembrance for me . Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the death of my wife. Last week it was my grand-daughter’s eleventh birthday. Soon it will be the anniversary of my mother’s death, fifty one years ago, and ten days before her birthday. We all have those sorts of remembrance.

And we all have memories of childhood. A few days ago I had to refer to my memoirs when an old school friend asked if I remembered -----. I can recall being pushed in a push chair through a narrow passageway at the side of my grandfather’s house and being told to keep my elbows in. I can recall my first girl-friend – we were both three years old, one day she let an iron gate swing against my head and I carry the scar to this day. That was the end of a fine romance! I can recall going to school for the first time and have recently written to that school telling them what it was like in 1933 – the children, I am told, were very amused.

I could go on at length and bore you stiff by telling you of many memories. And I bet you do too sometimes!

Then as we grow older, we all find that it is fairly easy to remember the good old days, but increasingly difficult to remember things like people’s names. One day in the summer I called on a lady whom I had known for several years, She answered the door and I said, “Hello Audrey, and how are you ?” She replied, “All the better for seeing you, but I can’t remember your name.” I thought that was delightfully honest.

Then you decide to fetch something from the next room or from upstairs, and when you get there you can’t remember what it is you came for.

And then there’s the problem of planning. One day I was in a café, having a cup of tea with an old friend who was then Archdeacon of Gloucester. Another clergyman came up to our table and said, “Excuse me, Archdeacon, but is it possible for you to come to such-and-such a meeting next week ?” “I’ve no idea,” said the Archdeacon, “I can never remember what’s in my diary and I haven’t got it one me – give me a ring this evening.”

Before I go to sleep at night I make a note on a bit of paper at my bedside of the things I have planned to do the next day – sometimes it reads – “Remember to look in diary”. Sometimes it contains one or two names which I can remember now, but might have forgotten tomorrow. One day I might have to write – “Remember to get up in the morning".

Now you may be wondering what all this has to do with a “Christian Message” which you might have been expecting. Well, you may have noticed that we have been thinking about remembrance in three ways. It can be about remembering the past, it can be about remembering the present, but also about remembering for the future.

In the several accounts of his last supper with his disciples, we are told that Jesus, after the meal, told them to “Do this in remembrance of me.”

He took bread and wine – in his day on earth these were the ordinary basics of eating and drinking which everyone has to do to stay alive. You don’t have to remember a complicated recipe or have a well-equipped kitchen. There were just two things to remember, and when you do, they remind you of Him.

Remembering IS about the past. We remember what sort of person Jesus was. We remember what he taught about human behaviour – the Sermon on the Mount is its summary. We remember what he did, how he behaved, how he tackled problems of sickness, of evil, of misunderstanding, of deliberate malice and misused authority. We remember his love, his compassion and his power to draw people to follow him. We remember his death on the Cross and his Resurrection. And remembering this, we can say with thankfulness, that “he did it for me “.

But if we leave our remembering there, we are forgetting that remembrance is also about the present. Jesus is not only a figure of the past who “DID”, but a man and a God of the present who “DOES”. Jesus is not only someone who gave advice and example two thousand years ago, but one who helps us to live today according to God’s will. He gives us inspiration, he gives us strength, he gives us the will to live life as it should be lived. Christ rose from the dead – in the past – but he IS risen still today, influencing people just as he did those disciples of old.

And Remembrance is about the future too.

St. Paul said that “If in THIS world only we have hope, then we are miserable people”

We remember that Jesus came to offer us eternal life. That is why, as the Holy Communion is ministered, after we are reminded of his words “do this in remembrance of me” I like to use the words to each recipient, “The body and blood of Christ keep you in eternal life”. For our remembrance of Him points us to a future beyond our imagining.

Another writer in the New Testament said – “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever.”

© The Estate of William John Green, 2004