Nick's Notes

Rector’s Letter November 2017

It was a great privilege to have been involved with the commemoration of the accident at Bere Ferrers station when, 100 years ago, 10 New Zealand soldiers were killed on their way to training at Salisbury Plain. It was a very moving event.  I was not involved in the planning, but it was obvious that a huge amount of work had gone in to making it happen, and our thanks go to all those involved.  It was great to see so many people turned out to mark this occasion.  But it does raise the question, Why?

There were some descendants present but no one really knew the soldiers – they were not from the village; they had not fought some historic battle – they were getting rations for their mates; it was 100 years ago – how long do we keep remembering?

We remember things that were important to us as a society.  When the personal link fades it is the wider issues that remain, and the passage of time allows us to look back in different ways.  It allows us to be critical and look at the wider picture so that the mistakes of the past might not be repeated (doesn’t always work); it allows us to see ‘the enemy’ in a more understanding light and see how they suffered rather than simply say ‘it was all their fault’; it can give us chance to feel we belong to something greater than we are and own something we were not directly involved in; and it can be a catalyst for reflection on things nearer to home.  This can be applied to many events in society not just war.

Remembrance Sunday has become a much bigger occasion as the events become further away.  The Help for Heroes campaign has raised the level of respect and dignity given to those who have fought on our behalf and live among us with the scars of that encounter without the embarrassment of former days; we remember those who died in World Wars and vicariously include those who fought in nearer conflicts. 

The Church, each Sunday, fulfils Christ’s command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’ when it celebrates the Holy Communion and has done so for 2,000 years so, I guess, there is something embedded in to our nature to remember and mark significant events, from birthday joys to tragic events.

Long may it continue.

Nick Law


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