LETTER FROM THE CURATE
“Remember, remember the fifth of November,” goes the old rhyme we sing about observing the traditional Bonfire Night. I remember the year my dad lost his eyebrows when our neighbour got rather enthusiastic with the bonfire we made! I remember colourful arrays of fizzes and pops crackling in the chilly night sky; wrapped up in a balaclava and mittens, stomping warmth into chilly toes, eating baked potatoes and sausages.
Bonfire Night might stir up childhood memories for you. Or it might, like it does for the older version of me these days, evoke a sigh of annoyance at the days of endless thumps and bangs that send pets into a frenzy. I think it was an annoyance to my classroom cleaner when I was a primary school teacher- because it meant the glitter came out for firework artwork- always a nightmare to hoover up!
November has as its signature tune the theme of remembering…
The month begins with All Souls, and a time of remembering those whom have departed this life. We are reminded of the thin space between this world and that where all the saints are gathered. Lighting a candle is one of the ways at this time that we remember those loved ones we miss.
Remembrance Sunday sees our communities come together to remember the fallen. Uniforms, medals, cenotaphs, wreaths and the striking red poppy are images of remembering. We are reminded to strive for peace, which might be captured for us in the poppy; yet for Christians, we also remember the peace of God in the image of the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The theme of remembering is a constant refrain of the Christian faith. We might recall the thief on the cross alongside Jesus, who said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). We might think of the rainbow symbolising that God will remember his promise (Genesis 9:13-17). The Old Testament remembers often how God remembers his people: “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8).
Sunday by Sunday, in each of our parishes we remember the meal Jesus shared with his friends before his death on the cross for us. We also remember those things we have done which we would rather forget, and we remember that we are forgiven.
I have mentioned the poppy as a striking image of remembering. How about the cross? It remembers that we are forgiven and that we are loved by God, who went to that cross for us. I think that trumps the fireworks and bonfires.