Today is Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom. Give this great blog a read by Jeannie Kendall —
And so we come to another Remembrance Sunday. Recently I asked a veteran in our congregation what it meant to him. For him, it is about remembering those he met in hospital, badly wounded from the Second World War. He does not know what happened to them, and wishes he did, but remembers them every year, and of course at times in between.
Remembrance means different things to different people. For some, memories and a sense of loss are all too fresh and painful. This is something many of us can understand, though our particular traumas may be different. Sights, sounds, feelings which we long to be free of refuse to leave at our command, coming unbidden to flood us afresh with pain. Trauma we cannot escape lays in wait to bring us distress again. Reminders scratch at the scars of losses we thought we had recovered from, or at least accepted.
Remembrance is also about gratitude for sacrifice, again something we can understand even if we are fortunate enough to be decades from war. Many of us recognise what others have given up to allow us to live the lives we do.
Remembrance too holds out a hope for peace, a longing that we might learn to live together without violence, to find a way to embrace difference rather than seek to vilify or destroy it. It seems so elusive in our world, yet for those who seek to follow the Prince of Peace surely it must still be what we strive for?
Remembrance Sunday strikes a chord deep within us, because as well as whatever the traditional elements mean to us, we carry a deep seated fear of being forgotten. This begins in childhood, when we fear abandonment, whether temporary at the school gate or on a more permanent basis through death, neglect or abuse. It continues into adulthood, with its myriad opportunities to feel, or indeed be, forgotten, be it in the trivial forgotten birthday card, being overlooked in the workplace, or disregarded in more devastating ways.
Perhaps it is important as we think about Remembrance Sunday, whatever it may mean to us, to hold on to the fact that God never forgets us, or those in our minds as we remember. The Bible is rich in stories where, amid profound suffering, it would have been easy for the person to feel forgotten: Noah floating perilously in the ark, Hagar weeping in the desert, Mephibosheth the orphaned cripple. In each case God both hears and holds them in His mind. They are never forgotten or forsaken.
And neither are we.