November 2018 - Rector's Ramblings

‘Remember, remember, the 5 th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.
We see no reason, why gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot ….’

I wonder how well that rhyme is known by youngsters today. Certainly it echoed around the
halls of north-west Kent in my own youth, though I’m not quite sure I really understood it when
I was very young.

Yes, people down the years have remembered a failed plot to blow up the Houses of
Parliament, which came to nil with the arrest of Guy Fawkes down in the cellars. And fireworks
are the lasting commemoration of that anniversary. I think it has grown distinctly unfriendly at
times over the centuries, with some distinctly abrasive anti-Catholic sentiment at times: which
is best condemned to the waste bin of history, and has no part in contemporary life.

Fireworks, of course, have spread to many other celebrations throughout the year, though they
continue to work to best effect in the dark months of winter.

Remembrance though, takes other forms too, and in this month of November it is a really
positive practice through which to engage our hearts and minds.

On 4 November 2018, in the afternoon, Westbourne Church hosts a Friends’ and Relatives’
Remembrance Service in which we step aside from current concerns and recall with respect our
departed loved ones. We do this in particular with the speaking of the names of those dear-to-us
who have died in 2017 or 2018 – admittedly an arbitrary time period. It is, though, an event in
which any can join, thoughtfully and solemnly, if this process of recollection and thankful
remembering can be of encouragement. It is good to look backwards, as well as forwards, and
to be reminded of how much the remembered past contributes to our present living, and, in
particular, how dearly those whom we have loved remain in our hearts and continue to shape
our own responses to the world.

For a minority of people, ever moving on, an event like this will always be a maudlin exercise which
they prefer not to undertake; but, for others of us, it is a profound recognition of our interconnectedness
across time and space, and the enduring nature of love and personal knowing. All are welcome.

And then the following week we share in the remembering that for our community exceeds all other,
with respect to the war that was (they hoped) ‘to end all Wars’. One hundred years on
from the armistice: the ending of the Great War of 1914-18. I expect this to be an impassioned
and notable event. Here in the parish, we commend to you the morning’s Remembrance Service
from 10.50 at the War Memorial, and also the Beacon-lighting from 6.45pm, across the road.
One hundred years! And whilst there are none of us alive for whom that conflict consciously
shaped us at the time, nonetheless, the annual event of Remembrance Sunday has impacted
upon our awareness for years since. It has been solemn, and it has been dignified, and it has
been across the generations, and it has been very worthwhile.

Remembering, even when we are beyond the generation who can personally recall, is
important. I fully expect that Remembrance Sunday will be re-drawn for the generations to
come, and that the one hundredth anniversary will itself present something of a high-water
mark. But remembering in some form or another needs to go on. We must be informed kindly
by our history; we must be reflective; we must recall events, and even horrors, in order to be
shaped wisely for the task of living. We must never imagine ourselves confined to that snap-
shot that is the present, nor simply at the mercies of a future which we fear to be sucking us
inexorably onward. We have a past, that is rightly very much a part of us.

A past in terms of national history and consequent identity; a past contributing to our values
and convictions; a past, in which beloved friends have touched our lives with grace and truth.

Kind wishes,

Andrew Doye

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