Pastoral Letter (November 2018)

from Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the End of the First World War and we will be joining the commemorations planned to mark this anniversary locally and nationally.  You will, no doubt, have seen the booklet produced by Wokingham Town Council "Wokingham Remembers" which details many of the events being planned locally.  These include our church display in Café Mosaic of the poppies that have been made by members of Contact and a collection of photographs.

On 4th August 1918, King George V called for a National Day of Prayer and 100 days later on 11th November the Armistice was signed.  The last soldiers went over the top at 4.20am, the Armistice was signed at 5am and at 11am on 11th November 2018, the guns fell silent and the war to end all wars was finally over.  But even on that last morning there were 10,944 casualties and 2,738 deaths on the Western Front.

The following year King George called for a two-minute silence:

All locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.

Since then, at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month a silence has been observed to remember those who lost their lives in war.

To help us to remember and reflect we use the words of the Kohima Epitaph:

When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today.

And the Ode of Remembrance, using words of Laurence Binyon's poem, "For the Fallen":

They shall grow not old as we 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.

As we reflect and pray we give thanks for the courage and persistence of those who served in WW1, we think of their fear, their faith, their friendship, their bravery and their sacrifice.  We thank God that their sacrifice resulted in our freedom. And we pray for and commit ourselves to peace-making.

As you prepare for Remembrance Sunday this year, you might find this prayer helpful:

Lord, strengthen our hearts, hands and minds to work together for peace; to see you in one another and to seek your Kingdom above all things; that your will may be seen to be done and your Kingdom come, through Jesus Christ the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

(The Liturgical Commission of the Church of England 2018, copyright The Archbishops' Council)

My prayer is that our time of remembrance might enable us to reflect with gratitude for the sacrifice of the past and look forward with hope for a brighter future.

With every blessing

Catherine

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