Saturday Reflection

7th November 2020

'..pandemic casts it's shadow.. '

If November has increasingly
come to be seen as
a month of remembrance,
this year it is going to be
especially poignant.
The ongoing and seemingly
relentless effects of the
coronavirus pandemic casts
it's shadow over all we do.

As a child,
I was mesmerised by the
BBC broadcast of
Remembrance Sunday
from the Cenotaph.

I was transfixed by the
slow marching of old men and women,
and the laying of the wreathes
by the great and the good,
as well as by the Two Minutes' Silence.

The curious choreographies
and silences simply called me
to stillness.

To this day,
I never cease to be moved by
the rituals of Remembrance Sunday.
In spite of the lock-down
the coronavirus will not stop
the remembrance ceremony
at the Cenotaph tomorrow
although it will be a
much scaled down affair;
I think it will all the more moving.

Yes, this year will be different,
and yet we also live in echoes
of events which affected
those who gathered for the
Armistice and Remembrance
parades in the first years
after the Great War.

For, we often forget
that back then communities suffered
multiple griefs:
not only was the nation
and Empire mourning the loss
of a million dead in war,
but countless others
in the Spanish Flu pandemic
which ripped through
exhausted populations
between 1918 and 1920.
The trauma ran almost unimaginably deep.

The word 'trauma' is derived from
the Ancient Greek word for hurt or wound.
We live in a world marked by
so very many wounds.
Trauma can be raw, however;
and to speak out of raw wounds
can be risky.

In an age when a terrorist
can rip apart communities
and individual lives in heartbeats,
the desire to 'strike back'
can feel overwhelming.

But Jesus invites us to
model another way:
that of the Prince of Peace.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace
because he embodies the deep truth
at the heart of God -
that in the final analysis,
however fraught and difficult
that may be,
we are called to seek
reconciliation and forgiveness
in our communities
and within ourselves.

Violence and war typically generate
more violence and war.
Human history shows this.
However, Jesus challenges this pattern.
Jesus is, himself, the victim of violence -
he is put to death -
and yet in resurrection
he comes not seeking revenge,
but welcome, reconciliation and love.

He invites us to live
in a different way to that
which the world typically lives by.

The concept of 'remembrance' holds
within it the notion of 're-membering'.
That is, of 'bringing back together';
of gathering the body so that it
may be whole again.

This season of remembrance
is meaningless if it involves
simply looking backwards.
It invites us to gather up
the fragments of loss and trauma and,
slowly, surely,
begin to live as a body of people
in a way which models hope,
openness and promise.

So wear your poppy with pride,
whatever colour you choose,
red, white, purple or black;
(more of that tomorrow)
put them in your windows
and tomorrow let's stay at home
and help protect the nation;
but go onto our doorsteps at 11am
for the 2 minute silence in solidarity
with all those who mourn the loss of a loved one.

Tomorrow is a time for memories,
tears and a time for silence.
Now is a time to hold the memory
of lost loved ones before us -
grandparents and great grandparents;
brothers and sisters and friends.

Now is the time to allow the silence
to hold our continuing
shock and trauma
in a world where violence
is common-place.

Now is the time to allow God to
meet us in remembrance
and draw us towards his way of
promise and reconciliation,
so that we never let the horror
of our memories or our grief
cut us off from God's grace and love.