Archive for November, 2014
ONE SOLITARY LIFE
You hardly need me to remind you that it will be Christmas in a few weeks time, like it or not! Whilst I enjoy the celebratory side to Christmas, as much as most folk do, I would always encourage you all to give some thought to the “Reason behind the Season”. In other words, think about Jesus and who this person was, born as the Christ Child.
Let’s focus on the birth story that we celebrate in a few weeks time. Why Bethlehem? Why Palestine? Why not Rome, Paris or London? These cities were more developed and communications were established. But, no, God chose a very small insignificant village in a small corner of a barren part of the Middle East to engage with humanity through the birth of Christ. He was probably born in some kind of cave amongst livestock. Why not chose a more significant, salubrious, developed and civilised place to achieve his objectives? Perhaps a palace amongst the rich would have been more fitting for the King of Kings! We may never know for sure but simply surmise. Maybe it was something to do with humble beginnings, identifying with the poor or being at the centre of the religious world of the day.
Whatever God’s reasons may have been one thing is for sure, it worked! The birth of Christ changed the world. I invite you to reflect on these words of Dr James Allan Francis in a sermon he once wrote:
19 centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.
All the armies that ever marched,
All the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliaments that ever sat,
All the Kings that ever reigned,
Put together, have not affected the life of man on earth
As much as that One Solitary Life.
Whether you are a Christian or not it is difficult to deny that Christ has shaped the world we live in like no other individual. This person’s solitary life has achieved so much. So, amidst all the excitement, celebration and the eating and drinking of the Christmas season, give a little thought to the humble, poor and unusual beginnings of the “One Solitary Life” who has changed the world we live in today.
None of this stops us enjoying ourselves. On the contrary, have a happy and holy Christmas this year!
God Bless Rev Jim
BLOOD SWEPT LANDS AND SEAS OF RED
I am aware that it was only in August that I wrote to you all referring to the fact that we are now commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. I thought I ought to write about something different this month. But then I thought, how can I ignore Remembrance this year of all years?
We have already marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in our churches and communities. This will be central to our thoughts, as always, on Remembrance Sunday. You are all most welcome to join us for this annual service in church. This is an opportunity to remember our relatives and those whose names appear on our village War Memorial. They are all deserving of our continued thoughts and prayers.
There are so many other events taking place, particularly during this month of November, which are dedicated to the commemorations you can hardly ignore the importance and enormity of the First World War. One such event which has grabbed the public’s attention and imagination is the Sea of Poppies at The Tower of London. Don’t miss the major art installation “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” at the Tower of London, marking one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war. The poppies encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. I personally found it quite overwhelming when I visited the spectacle. The scale of the installation is to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration.
However, the success of this visual commemoration is already leading to a further problem. What will happen in 2018? How can they mark the conclusion of The Great War following the success of the poppies? It led me to reflect on the article I wrote in August when I stated ” It also cannot be about just remembering the past, but also about learning the lessons it has for the future. As the historian Hew Strachan says ‘If we do not emerge at the end of the process in 2018 with fresh perspectives, we shall have failed.’”.
In November, on Armistice Day, the poppies will be removed but we still witness war in various corners of the world. The challenge I referred to remains and I shall continue to pray for a “Fresh Perspective” for 2018! I look forward to the sequel to “Blood swept Lands and Seas of Red”.
Revd Jim Brown
(Originally published in November issue of Rostrum Village Magazine)