As we enter into the month of November, the month of ‘Remembrance’, we do so acutely aware of the sacrifices that were made in the two great conflicts of the 20th century and the wars and battles that have been fought since. After we celebrated ‘All Saints’ and ‘All Souls’ at the start of the month we soon turned our attention to ‘Remembrance Sunday’ itself. In Churches in Great Britain and in many other places of memorial across Europe silent homage will be paid to the many millions who have died since the first of those two great conflicts. Their memorial will be a single verse, recited as it has been over many years and at every solemn commemoration:
They shall not grow old as awe that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.
The words are so familiar that people assume that they come from the Bible. They were in fact written and published on September 21st by Laurence Binyon. Fame and endurance are hard to predict. Some poets including Wilfrid Owen and Gerard Manley Hopkins were unknown in their lifetimes, but since have become part of the canon of English literature. Others such as Robert Bridges and Binyon were influential figures, but who have now passed into virtual obscurity. Then there is Rupert Brooke whose poignant words are well known by many:
If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England. There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed; a dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam, A body of England’s breathing English air, washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home…
Passing on – death – is a fact of life. Whenever someone we love dies, we too die a little. The Christian faith does not pretend that the death of any human being is other than a mystery, and one that causes great loss and pain. It recognizes that the death of a young person is particularly absurd, because the promise of a human being with his or her life to live, is frustrated. As Christians we believe that God calls us to participate in a life that is fully human. The cutting off of such possibilities challenges us very profoundly.
But God is God of the Living and not the dead. And as he Himself wept at the grave of Lazarus His friend so he bids us weep and grieve because it is part of the healing process. At the same time He calls us to believe, believe in those majestic words which start every funeral service: I am the Resurrection and I am the Life. If anyone believes in me, even though he be dead, he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
And so it is, that on the strength of these words we believe that those who have died in the faith of Christ have entered into the eternal day, into a more total union with Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord of all creation, and with the entire heavenly host.
Jesus bids us believe. He also bids us to let go. But letting go is very difficult. We try hard not to let go of those who are near and dear to us. The Apostles did not want to let go but He told them unless they did, they would never receive the Holy Spirit. Mary Magdalene wanted to cling to the Risen Jesus, and possess Him, but se also was told not to. It takes the lived Christian experience to convey the letting go and it takes another poet C. Day Lewis, to put the experience into a nutshell:
I have had worse partings, but none so gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is thoroughly saying that God alone could perfectly show how selfhood begins with walking away, and love is proved in the letting go.
The secret of letting go means allowing those whom we mourn to die a little more to us each day so that we can possess them and relate to them in a different way and new way. This was the lesson the disciples had to learn before they were able to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. For when God showed the immensity of His love for human beings, when He defeated the power of sin and death and raised Jesus to new life, it was not just a Resurrection to an old way of living but a transformation which had no physical limits. And to all who share in His death and Resurrection, they will share in this transformation also.
Each and every Sunday we profess our faith in the resurrection, not only of Jesus of Nazareth, but of every man and woman and child, from the beginning to the end of human history. On remembrance Sunday as on every Sunday when we recite the words in the Creed… ‘we look for the Resurrection of the dead’ we do so because life without that expectation would be meaningless and incomplete. Likewise the affirmation of faith during the Eucharistic Prayer … ‘Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again’… is a profound statement of what we all believe. And faith in the Resurrection does not remove the tears, it allows them to glisten faintly in the light that lies beyond, the light in which God Himself lives. That is why whenever we mourn the departure of those we love, we do so in the knowledge that we are also celebrating their homecoming.
Or in the words of another poet, this time an Indian mystic:
Death is not the extinguishing of the light, but putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
What’s On & Notices
Advent December 1st | 10:30 & 16:30
Sunday this year falls on December 1st. We shall celebrate with our usual 10.30 sung Eucharist in the morning followed by an Advent Carol service at 16.30 to which everyone is invited. This will be a Deanery Carol service with representatives coming from along the Riviera. There will be refreshments afterwards in the Library.
Kermesse December 7th | All Day
The Annual Kermesse will be held on December 7th. We will be running the coffee/ tea stall and will need plenty of volunteers. Please put the date in your diary and let Frances know if you are available to help.
Handel’s Messiah December 7th | All Day
performed by Ristretto will once again be held at St. Paul’s, this year on Saturday December 14th at 19.00. This wonderful piece of music is the perfect Advent concert and tickets can be purchased at www.ristrettovoices.com.
are always welcomed at St. Paul’s to take part in the services as servers, readers and greeters as well as those who serve refreshments and help after the services. We are always grateful to those who volunteer in these duties. Should you wish to help in any of these areas and can be included in the rota for October and November please contact Frances in the usual way. Thank you.
We are in the process of securing a date for the Bishop to visit next year for a Confirmation service which we hope will be here in St. Paul’s. Confirmation is when those who are Baptised ‘confirm’ their baptismal vows for themselves. It is when the Baptised Christian becomes an adult and takes on the responsibilities of a committed Christian for himself or herself. If you are not confirmed and would like to receive this sacrament or are interested in knowing more about what being confirmed is all about, please contact Fr. Lawrence
Daily Services Every Thursday & Friday | 12:45
As worship is the most important part of our Christian lives we are looking to expand the number of services that we have at St. Paul’s. Starting in October we shall be having two extra said Eucharists. These will be held every Thursday and Friday at 12.45 and last about half an hour. This seems to be a popular time for people to come in their lunch break and join in this quiet meditative service. Come and join us for this prayerful lunchtime worship.
Servers at the Altar
I am pleased to report that we are expanding our serving team. Serving at the altar is not restricted to young people alone. If you would like to serve at either the Sunday service or during the week please make yourself known to Fr. Lawrence.
Do you have a burning desire to sing? St. Augustine says that those who sing are praying twice as much as those who don’t. Whatever your talent or ability, whether you have some or none or would just like to join a group who lead the worship please make yourself known to one of the wardens or Fr. Lawrence for more information on how to join.