Frensham Village Churches

Letter from the Vicarage - November 2016


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are soon coming round again, and as I am getting ready to conduct the special services which take place in and around our villages and churches, I thought I would share with you one of the readings for the day. It is from the Old Testament, from the book of Micah chapter 4:

“…Come! Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob., where God will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The Law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. God will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore…” 

As we remember those who gave their lives for us so that we may live freely today, wouldn’t it be wonderful if humanity could transform their weapons into garden implements and start to look after the earth? Wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if those in authority stopped playing these war games of perceived control, greed and power (because ultimately that is what they are, and nobody truly wins) and started to grow into true leaders of compassion and care for their people as well as concern for good neighbourliness? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the petty disagreements between the nations could be resolved?

 People sometimes criticise me for being naive about war resolution saying it is not that simple and of course they are right because people don’t like to back down, they don’t like to ‘loose face’ or look weak; people would rather continue being abusive and aggressive rather than admit they are wrong, apologise and change their ways.  But nevertheless I believe peace is possible ironically because of the suffering and death these bullies cause… 

In Jesus’ day it was no different. He was bullied and tortured beyond belief and Pontius Pilot and the guards couldn’t understand his lack of response to their insults and cruelty. Jesus was crucified and died and the leaders of the day thought rather gleefully, “that is the end of all him challenging our laws and helping lowly people to live…” But they didn’t expect Jesus to rise again and ascend to give us the Holy Spirit so that linking in with the ‘Power of Life’ itself we could evolve and develop into loving, caring, peaceable people. 

So I believe peace is possible but it takes great sacrifice… of our ‘selves’- our selfish and arrogant natures, our greedy and over ambitious egos, our blame culture rather than taking responsibility for our own failings, etc. 

79 precious people died in our villages in both World Wars so that we may live peaceably. If we think of our country, millions of others have died for our collective freedom in the World Wars.  The re-‘member’-ance of those brave men – bringing their ‘members’ back to us in the special services on 13th November, and acknowledging just what a great sacrifice they made - makes us stop still for at least 2 minutes (no matter what we are doing) and helps us be grateful for the life we have because of them. Stopping to remember their sacrifice both refreshes and renews our dedication to work for a better, more peaceful future. Sometimes there is not a lot we can do physically, but what we can do is change our attitude to one of utter respect and thankfulness for them, and then work to learn more understanding and self-control when it comes to arguments, anger, retaliation, violence, etc. 

Another  thing we can do is Come! Come to the services on Remembrance Sunday and show respect for what they have done for us. This year I would very much like to have at least 79 people to the church service so that for every man’s sacrifice there is a witness representing them with a special poppy candle. So please come! Come so that where God can teach us his ways, so that we may walk in the path of peace.

I think it is the best way to honour our courageous war dead who now live in God’s perpetual light and love. 

With love and prayers,