Sunday, 8 November 2009

At the going down of the Sun....and in the morning....

We will remember them...Remembrance 2. A day of charged emotion here in the UK on this Remembrance Sunday. Our Parish Church is small and Celtic from the 9th. century. Most of the original stones are below ground and in the circular wall of the churchyard. We worship on sacred ground and these stones have seen many wars and burials in their time. They have also witnessed the centuries-old worship and prayers of the people that continue to soak up our catholic and post-reformation liturgies and sacrifices of prayer and thanksgiving even today....a thousand years later. The Requiem Mass this morning in our small rural parish of 900 or so souls mustered  a congregation of 50 communicants and others and 10 Sunday School members who led our intercessions. The tone was solemn, Gospel-centred and based on Jesus' promise of eternal life. The Communion concluded at 10.52 am and in the presence of the blessed Sacrament of the Lord remaining on the altar we processed to the war memorial plaque behind the font, the Celebrant carrying the wreath of Flanders poppies from before the altar in the sanctuary, through the body of the church with solemn music playing from the Victorian pipe-organ. As the wreath was laid the Deacon lit the pascal candle and at exactly 11am the two minute memorial silence began in time with the Sovereign's church parade at London's cenotaph and throughout the land. After two verses of the National Anthem we returned to the sanctuary for the post-communion and blessing.
It was at the South door and in the school room afterwards that we shared common experiences of the tragedy of war that affects many of us even in the rural parishes at the moment. Many, many people in our communities and in our nation are now again having to share in the losses and the injuries of the present war in what we used to call the North West Frontier, always a most unhappy burial-ground for the British. Our loyalty to the troops on the ground and to their families is never in question. We look to the Generals and to the politicians for strong, explicit and morally justifiable war-leadership at this time . Our question as to the truth and efficacy of this will be left for another day. For this day we shared, even in this small community, with those in tears for the bomb disposal friend blown-up, the 18yr. old brother of a niece's school friend shot down  in his youth, the garrison-town stories two miles away where too many young men have died in the heat of Afghan battles. On the way out two of the congregation quietly reflected on their war-time service. One in Palastine one in Borneo where,captured by the Japanese, 1000(one thousand) men in his Japanese  transport ship died even before they got to the prisoner of war camp due to the cruelty of man to man... no water... no light.. air.... A foretaste of the three years of continuing cruelty to come to him and his fellow compatriots and their allies. A  day of charged emotion but one of unity, common suffering and determination to overcome and to share in new life. "At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will ( always) remember them.....WE WILL REMEMBER THEM."

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