November marks the month of remembrance in the church’s year. It begins with the celebration of All Saints, a time when we give thanks for those whose lives have inspired and shaped for the good the lives of others and the life of the world. And then there’s All Souls where we begin to mind our memories of all our loved ones who are no longer with us in body in this life. And finally just over a week later, we call to mind all those who lost their lives in and through war and conflict; civilians, those who died in concentration camps, those who took active part in the conflicts throughout the world.
But what is remembering all about? Remembering is a necessary and important part of our grief, an honouring of the lives of those no longer with us and a re-membering so that the gifts and the examples, the sacrifices of others may support us in embracing more fully life in all its fullness now. Remembrance reminds us of the preciousness of life and that light is only truly appreciated when the darkness begins to cover us … so November, the month where the light draws in, is well chosen for this season of Remembrance.
But there is more to remembering than mere recollection. Re-membering is at the heart of the Biblical story, ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ are among the last words Jesus utters to his friends and ‘Lord remember me when you come in to your Kingdom,’ are among the last words offered to Jesus on the cross. When we gather for worship in church, we engage in this mysterious act of re-membering, in which we is a mysterious process in which the past, present and future acts of God become bound together in that moment; a process in which God is able to re-shape our lives so that we may more fully be the people God created us to be in this world.
As we gather together in these simple but profound acts of remembering this November, as we recall and reflect on the lives of others, as we pray and hold the silence, so we enable in some mysterious way the loving kindness, the dedication and self-sacrifice of those who have gone before, to come into the here and now. And in that moment we can receive both comfort in our loss and a deeper motivation to live lives that honour those whose lives have touched, shaped and inspired us.
So this year, as we take part in this season of re-membrance, let us remember all those who have kept and held us together when we felt we might fall apart, all those whose lives shaped and inspired ours. Let us do this in gratitude remembering that that we are held together and forever loved by a God who remembers each one of us, who holds each life as precious and of immeasurable worth and value. And may our memories this year spur us forward in the search for a deeper connection with God and through God, with others, that we might strive for a deeper understanding of our own and others dreams and hopes, and a strengthened motivation to seek all that cherishes and honours life in all its fullness throughout the world.