A Vicar Writes: November 2018

November is the month when as a nation are called to remember. It is so important to look back and remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many, because of their sacrifice we are able to live in a world which would otherwise have been so different. This year holds particular importance being 100 years since the Armistice that marked the end of the first world war. At St. Anne’s we are marking this event with a weekend of Remembrance. We hope you will be able to join us. Details are laid out below.

Friday 9th:7pm Film night ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ (cert 15) – Followed by discussion (N.B. Please note This film contains some graphic scenes)

Saturday 10th: 1-3 pm Church Open for Visitors to see Remembrance display and Books of Remembrance & War memorial

Saturday 10th: 6.30pm Centenary Vigil Service

Sunday 11th: 10.45am Remembrance Service with official act of remembrance

Sunday 11th: 2 – 4pm Church open for Visitors to see Remembrance display and Books of Remembrance & War memorial

Sunday 11th: 6pm: Annual Bereavement Service: All are invited to a quiet service of thanksgiving during which there is the opportunity to have the names of loved ones we have lost read aloud and to light a candle in their memory.

As I state above, remembering is important, looking back at things enables us to reflect and to change as we seek to move forward. The lessons learnt from the Great Wars certainly shaped our society today.

Jesus says this in Luke 9:62  “Anyone who puts a hand to the plough and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” What does this mean? Firstly, Jesus is not saying we shouldn’t look back and remember our past – not at all. Infact we are called to look back and remember. However, what he is saying is a simple truth, its an image that the hearers of the day would recognise. Anyone ploughing a field with a hand plough behind a horse needs to keep their eyes forward on a fixed point in order to plough a straight line. Its this idea of keeping our eyes fixed/focussed that Jesus wants to impress upon us. You see if the farmer ploughing the field turned to look backwards, the natural movement of the head would also turn the shoulders, which would consequently turn the plough – hence no longer a straight line!

What this says to the Christian is that our eyes should be fixed on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, we should keep our focus on him at all times and not be distracted by other things that might cause our head to turn. There are so many distractions in the world today that could easily tempt us off the straight path. In order to overcome these we must keep our focus on Jesus. Remember Peter, who was called by Jesus to walk on water, the minute he took his gaze off the Lord he began sink. I wonder where is your gaze currently?

A second point to note, there are some who look back to their former life before they became Christians and find themselves struggling with the Christian walk. In this passage Jesus is saying, if we keep looking back to our former life, we soon find ourselves sucked back into our old ways. This holds us back and becomes our focus rather than focussing on Him.  In order to grow and deepen in our faith we must focus ahead and keep our gaze on the Lord.

Finally, there are some Christians, who hold on to guilt maybe from sins committed years before, or sadly from sins committed against them. And its these sins, or the guilt that is carried because of them, that keep causing us to look back. For some reason we cannot let it go and it distracts us and hinders us from ploughing a straight line.  John 8: 36 ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’. When we come to Jesus, we are restored, forgiven and accepted. The slate is wiped clean. Our baggage is dealt with. And being freed from this we are enabled to let the past go, to look forward and to move forward with Jesus as our focus.

So as we think about Remembrance, yes its right to look back and remember, to see how our past (including our past mistakes) have helped to shape and mould us. But its also important to use these experiences to ensure that we move forward positively having learnt and grown through them. And it seems to me the only way we can do this effectively is by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.

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