Our deciduous trees give a rhythm to the year. The autumn leaf-fall makes this a natural time of the year to look back and be aware of death and remembrance. In the church calendar there is All Saints’ Day on Wednesday 1st November; our All Souls’ Service on Sunday 5th November at 6-30 pm (the nearest Sunday to 2nd November); and Remembrance Sunday Service starting at 10 am on 12th November, with its two minute silence at 11am.
At each service we remember different, and overlapping, groups of people: those who build the kingdom of God through the church on All Saints Day; family members and close friends at All Souls – people who have made us who we are; and those who have given their lives in military service making and defending our society on Remembrance Sunday.
So how and what do we remember, and to what purpose? You will have your own thoughts and perhaps these are some of them.
We remember to give thanks to God, who is the source of life and death. We remember to treasure the particular memory of people and events that have shaped us and the world around us. We remember to lay to rest the past ills and hurts, so that we may live in the present unburdened. And we remember the past to inspire us to live well before God in the here and now, and to prepare us for the future that is unfolding.
‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the
kingdom of God.’
(Luke 9 v60)
So here is a teaching of Jesus which is also connected to remembering. In many of the things Jesus said, he provokes us to deeper understanding. At first reading, this teaching seems almost against remembrance of those who have died. But look again, and be drawn to the invitation to proclaim the kingdom of God.
It is the kingdom of God that holds both us and who we remember. We are all rooted in the love of God, and so remain connected through and in God. And it is the spiritually alive who are in the kingdom of God. So to expand Jesus’ teaching:
“let the spiritually dead bury those who are dead to the Spirit of God, but you, who are alive to the Spirit of God, proclaim the Kingdom of God, the place of God’s activity and love.”
It is no accident that “inspire” means to breath in the Spirit of God. So as we remember particular people, in both life and in eternal life, may we be inspired to be people of God’s activity and love.