Remember, remember…

As November quickly approaches, remembering seems to be what we do. The ‘gunpowder, treason and plot’ of November 5th quickly gives way to a more solemn remembering of the war dead of a century and more on and around November 11th. But there’s more to remembering than simply recalling past events, though that’s certainly a part.

When we properly remember something, we recognise that we are part of the same story, and that the events of the past – even those in which none of us were directly involved – can and do impact how we think and act and live today. The thwarted attempt to assassinate the King and Parliament in 1605 stands as a lesson to us, over four hundred years later, that violence is not a good solution to our political disagreements, no matter how complicated and seemingly intractable things might appear. To honour the casualties of war is not just to pay tribute to bravery and self-sacrifice which continues even today, as right as it is to do so, but it is a continuing challenge to us all to strive for a world where such bravery and self-sacrifice are no longer needed.

The Church also has its own special days of remembrance at the beginning of November. November 1st is All Saints’ Day (in older English also known as All Hallows’ Day – hence the name “Hallowe’en” for October 31st), a day when we give thanks for all those who have lived Christian lives worthy of celebration. There are, of course, days for particular named saints throughout the year – and watch out for more from me on that topic in the December issue of Hambledonian! – but this is a day to celebrate them all together, even those ones whose names we no longer recall, and to think about how their examples of life and faith can inspire and shape us today. We’ll be marking the day on Friday 1st November with a service at St Peter’s Soberton at 7.30pm, and also at our morning services on Sunday 3rd November.

November 2nd, meanwhile, is All Souls’ Day, for remembering all those whom we have loved and yet see no longer. Family members, friends, loved ones, people from our village…there are so many who, in some way or other, have made us each into the people we are today. There will be special evening services of ‘Remembering Loved Ones’ in St Peter’s Soberton and here at St Peter & St Paul Hambledon on Sunday 3rd November for us to remember and give thanks for everyone who has influenced our lives. All Saints’ and All Souls’ together also remind us that while we may eventually be forgotten by people, we will never be forgotten by God (Isaiah 49.15). As always, you are all warmly invited to come and join in these and indeed any of our church services across the benefice.

There isn’t much point in remembering so much in the first few days of November, however, if it doesn’t make any difference to us the rest of the year. In fact, if it doesn’t make any difference, then we almost certainly haven’t actually remembered properly. Are all these things just an excuse to tell good tales about the past? Or are they opportunities to think, to learn, maybe even to change how we are going to live right now?

Just as the events of the past aren’t only tales to be recalled, but part of the story of who we currently are, so our lives are part of the story that will shape the lives of generations to come, sometimes in ways we can’t even imagine. Our village, our country, our world, and each of us – we are all how and who we are because if the influence of people we will never know. Really, truly remembering the people and events of the past reminds us of that, and it also challenges and inspires us to be people whose lives and influence will be remembered for the right reasons even when our names are long past human recollection. Whoever, whatever, and however you choose to remember this November, let us give thanks for all that has been good, be honest about those things which have not been good, and together learn from it all. Let’s make our small part of the story one that, for all the best reasons, people will want to remember.


Fr David