Serving God, Serving our Community

We will remember them…

Dear parishioners and friends,

“‘History repeats itself.  Has to!  Nobody listens!”  These punchy lines by the contemporary English poet, Steve Turner, are spot on.  If we can’t or won’t learn from the past, we are surely condemned to repeat its mistakes.

In November, we rightly and gratefully recall those who gave their lives in armed conflicts so we can enjoy our freedom.  But remembering can be difficult.  Many have not experienced war first-hand.  In our hectic lives, do we have time to remember?  And isn’t remembering easier for the old? Some wistfully recall the (rose-tinted?)  ‘good old days.’  Meanwhile, others complain about the ‘bad old days.’  Living in the past can sometimes be a form of escapism, a refuge in nostalgia from the complexity of the present.

However, we should never underestimate the dynamic power of remembering, for young and old alike.  The author, scholar  and wit, Dr Samuel Johnson, whose tercentenary was celebrated in 2007, wisely observed:  “The true art of memory is the art of attention”.  We need to pay close attention to our national and personal histories and life experiences.  As we discern more clearly what is (or was) happening we can hopefully learn lessons that are valuable, even vital, for the present and the future.

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian woman, whose true story is told in the film, The Hiding Place.  She bravely concealed Jewish people in her home during World War II.  As a result, Corrie and her sister Betsy were put in a Nazi concentration camp, where Betsy was killed.  Corrie survived and after her release, rather than becoming bogged down in hatred, Corrie decided to forgive and to look forward. She travelled the world urging people of all ages to remember and therefore to build a better world.  Corrie ten Boom said:  “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future”.

The Bible mentions remembering over 240 times. God remembers the faithful promises He makes to his people.  He urges us to use many means to remember when He has acted decisively in history and in our lives.   Not only His love in action in the past, but also remembering to seek to experience it ourselves in the present and the future.  Are we listening?

Rev Fred Olney