Rt Rev Colin Fletcher: 'This is the time of year when we give thanks, remember and grieve' (From Bicester Advertiser)
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Rt Rev Colin Fletcher: 'This is the time of year when we give thanks, remember and grieve'
3:00pm Monday 4th November 2013 in News
Remember, Remember...‘Remember, remember the fifth of November Gunpowder, treason and plot, I see no reason Why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot’ To be honest I’m not sure how many children would know that little rhyme today even if bonfires and firework displays remain as popular as ever.
But what is certain is that, over the past two decades, this season of the year has established itself more firmly than ever as a season of Remembrance.
As its centre, of course, lies Remembrance Day when we will be remembering not just those who died in the two World Wars but the many others who have lost their lives in conflicts since then.
Alongside that All Saints Day, which was on Friday and All Souls Day, which was on Saturday, provide a time when many churches lay on special services, or say special prayers, for those who have lost their loved ones.
All these are very poignant and, as many people who have been bereaved have told me down the years, it is very important that those of us who are still alive should have the public opportunity to remember, to give thanks for all a person meant to us, but also to grieve.
Death and loss leave a huge gap in our lives, whether or not the person who died had clearly reached the end of their life, and we would not have wanted them to struggle on any longer.
But there is something even harder about a sudden, unexpected death and it’s for that reason that I think that the special service organised by the Thames Valley Police each year at St Mary’s in Thame (this year’s is on November 17 at 3pm) is so important.
Those invited to it have all been affected, whether as relative or friends or in some other way, by someone dying on our roads. Those deaths do not respect age, gender, faith or anything else – what will bind us together that day is the knowledge that everyone present knows something of the pain of such a loss – and the service is designed to include elements for those of all faiths and none.
I will have a particular privilege this year as I have been asked to speak at it – not as a bishop but rather as an uncle who lost a young niece in a horse riding accident twenty years ago. I have not decided quite what to say yet but it has already made me reflect on what it has meant for her parents and sister since then. There is still a Helen-shaped hole in that family, and there always will be.
But with the remembering there is too a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy at the person she was – and sorrow that she did not live to fulfil her full potential. Some funerals today seem to want to rush to thanksgiving without giving the space to acknowledge the pain and the loss.
Even if, as I do, you believe in resurrection and new, transformed life beyond the grave, death is still ugly and painful and this Remembrance Season gives us the space to acknowledge that, and to remember all those who have died.
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