The month of November is a time when we remember some very significant dates both in the church year and the life of our country. The church remembers all the Saints on the 1st November and all those who died on the 2ndNovember, also known as All Souls’ Day. All Saints’ Day is transferred to Sunday 5th November, which coincidentally is also Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night. There is a strong sense of looking back to the past and remembering the good, those who have loved us and some who got it badly wrong. Remembering the past is a good way to deal with the present, we can gain strength from those who have gone before us.
The National Remembrance is on Saturday 11th November as we remember 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 theme is continued onto Remembrance Sunday on the 12th November. Each year sees significant anniversaries in conflicts around the world. This year marks 70 years since fighting in the Korean War came to an end. The 27th July was the anniversary of the Armistice in 1953 of what many call ‘the Forgotten War’. It was overshadowed by the end of the Second World War and the subsequent ‘Cold War’, and yet the sacrifice of the Allied Armed Forces was extremely high, and its legacy still has a global impact. I have to confess to being completely unaware of this anniversary. The division between North and South Korea is still very much an issue even today.
The end of November sees the church marking the end of the church year on Sunday 26th November. In essence, our goal is heaven and the month of November reminds us of that lifelong journey to heaven. It finishes with Jesus as our King in heaven. The company of all the Saints and those who loved us reminds us of two very important things. Firstly, life is a struggle and difficult and we have to keep going in the face of pitfalls and obstacles. Secondly, the bible tells us that we are cheered on by those who have gone before us in the race that is life.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”Hebrews 12, Verse 1
We need to remember we are never really alone and we are encouraged to keep going in our journey through life. I am often encouraged by being able to offer help or receive help from others. We do not succeed in our own strength entirely, we have to work together for things beyond our grasp. We are interconnected, not isolated and held by God.