Priestly Ponderings November 2014

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)

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