November is a month when we remember. On a light-hearted level, we remember the Guy Fawkes of 1605. Most of us have learnt at least the first line of the rhyme;
“Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!”
On a more serious note, we remember Armistice Day, 11th November 1918 and focus on an act of remembrance for those killed and wounded in the two world wars and military conflicts since the Second World War. This has been brought into sharper focus with the deaths of service people in Afghanistan and Iraq. The words of the Kohima epitaph I still find haunting.
“When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today”
I will also remember our late Queen Elizabeth who was so faithful in her loyal service as she attended the Remembrance Parades over her seventy years of service. She also laid wreaths of remembrance at memorials all around the world in her many travels.
The church also remembers the 1st of November, All Saints and the 2nd of November, All Souls. The saints cover people singled out for their faith and witness. Whereas All Souls remembers those whom we love who are no longer with us and are separated from us by death.
We start to see how important November has become as an annual remembrance. It is worth remembering that grief is not a process that we can turn on in November and off for the rest of the year. People remember often on an hourly, daily or weekly basis in the early parts of the grieving process. There will never be a time when people forget the people that they have loved. The act of remembering in November allows a collective remembering in which people feel supported and not forgotten in their grief.
The church has another dimension of remembering in November which is called the Kingdom season. This starts on All Saints on 1st November and ends on Christ the King on Sunday 20th November. This period marks the end of the church’s year. In essence, our goal is heaven and the kingdom season celebrates that lifelong journey to heaven. It finishes with Jesus as our King in heaven. It is always important to know where we are going or else we can easily get lost. The Christian life aims for a relationship with God that transcends our earthly life into eternal life in heaven. It is worth remembering the cost of this to Jesus. This was brought about through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can draw several parallels by remembering those who have given so much to us. The need to use that gift wisely for the benefit of others and to keep focused on our aim in life. In God’s economy, peace and justice are central to establishing a sense of heaven on earth.