No sun no moon!
No morn no noon -
No dawn no dusk no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease.
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds!
As a November baby I have always found this poem by Thomas Hood to be somewhat depressing! Writing in the early Victorian period, the longer version indicates that he was reflecting on the fog-filled London of his time but I think that this particular month does by its very nature invite an air of nostalgia as we look back wistfully to the brighter and warmer days of summer.
November is the month for REMEMBERING and this is very much reflected in the life of our Church.
We start by remembering the Saints of this and every age men and women who have played their part in pointing us to God and who have brought light into the world by living out their faith in their daily lives.
We also give thanks for the lives of All Souls those whom we have loved but see no more. As we commend them to Gods gracious keeping we pray too for those who still mourn their passing.
The Church of England used to keep a day of Thanksgiving on the 5th November for the Happy Deliverance of King James 1st …from the most traitorous intended Massacre by gunpowder we have now dropped this (a rare example of the Church being ahead of society!)
In November we make a particular Remembrance of the men and women of our Armed Forces and all who have given their lives in the service of our nation. As we reflect upon their sacrifices and the struggles of previous generations, we do so in full knowledge that such struggles and sacrifices continue today.
But remembering can be a slippery business. If we are not careful we can allow our remembering to become a way of taking refuge from the present. We sink into nostalgia and think of a time that in reality never really existed when everyone was much nicer to each other and there was such a sense of community you would go out and never lock your front door. People look back to when they never had it so good and conveniently forget the down side of those days but still compare them with life today and then feel aggrieved that the world in 2016 seems so different from days gone by.
Scapegoating becomes an easy way of blame for the ills of todays society and simplistic solutions are presented as the answer to issues confronting us: Limit the number of asylum seekers; build a wall between the USA and Mexico…..
It is so easy to allow our memories to be coloured when the reality is that each generation has its own challenges as well as its good times.
As Christians our remembering is not sentimental but hopeful not breaking faith with the past but acknowledging the human cost of things that we are at risk of taking for granted: freedom; liberty; democracy; justice and peace. There is little point in remembering unless we work together to build the kind of world that those whose names adorn our war memorials laid down their lives to protect the kind of world that we would call the Kingdom of God.
At the end of November comes Advent when we are encouraged to look back as we reflect on our lives as Christians and on the promises and expectations that have found their fulfilment in the birth of Jesus. When we remember this, suddenly November does not seem such a dull month after all!
With love and every blessing for a hope-ful November,