A message from The Rev’d Lyn McRostie, Rector of Northwood.

Posted by Admin on Monday, 22nd October 2007, 00:00

This month, on November 11th we will once again gather to remember the sacrifices of those who died in the wars of the 20th century and now also the 21st. The last 100 years have their place in history as the period when more people were killed in wars than in any other century. As I write those words I am struck by what they mean in human terms. I need to stop, take a breath and remember I’m not just talking anonymous statistics here; I’m talking about real people who were created in the image of God and have been loved by God and their human families and friends but have lost their lives violently and before time because of human failing. What CAN we learn from past experience?

Wars like the 1st World War are distant to many people now. So few veterans still live and the grainy footage that we see of those men in the trenches reflects another world, another way of doing war. Even the 2nd World War can seem remote unless it is given a human face. Many of us who did not live through it will know something of it from our parents or grandparents and their experiences will be recalled as the generations pass the stories on. One of the very powerful messages of Remembrance Sunday is that individual stories are important, the individuals matter and there is something in each individual story which speaks to everyone whether or not we knew the individual concerned.

I felt that very strongly when I was watching a recent “Who do you think you are”. It was the episode featuring Carol Vorderman. Perhaps you watched it. If you did you will remember that one of the things she wanted to establish was the truth of the family story that her father had fought in the Dutch Resistance. She wasn’t able to ask her father any details but she was able to learn an enormous amount through the memories of his colleagues, through other family members, museums and archive records of the time. Through her investigations Carol was able to re-member; to put together a story which helped her make sense of the family history she knew and to put it in a wider context.

This month, with Remembrance Sunday, we will do the same. We will use worship, stories, memories and recollections, to help us understand something of the experience of war and what we can learn from it. The Bible helps us in the same way. By using historical experience it enables us to make sense of stories we have heard and to make sense of our own experiences. We are all enabled to re-member (i.e. put things together again) and understand so that we can look again at the world in which we live.

There is so much in our world that needs our prayers. Whatever our views on the rights and wrongs of Iraq and Afghanistan and the other areas of the world where war continues, as I write this, I keep hearing in my head the words from Jeremiah that are repeated in Mathew’s gospel, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

Many people continue, rightly, to ask “Where is God in all of this?”  In response I would say look to the Cross. It is the Cross that reminds us of our human frailty; it is the Cross that tells us that God is in the midst of it all, suffering with us and seeking, in love, to rescue us from all that is occurring. This is why our re-membering matters. This is why our prayers matter. Whether we pray for justice, for reconciliation, for mercy, for the leaders of the nations, for refugees, for peace, or for all of these, may our hearts and minds be so turned to pray that God may work through all of us and help us to grow in relationship with our neighbours. And if we struggle and cannot find the words, then please join with me in using this simple prayer for troubled times.

“God of love, turn our hearts to your ways; and give us peace. Amen.”

Lyn.

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