November begins with the saints and ends with Advent and in between we have the sombre moments of Remembrance. The three do have some connecting themes. All Saints reminds us of the communion of saints, our place with those who have gone before us, in the family of God. That means the people you have known and loved. Think about them. You see All Saints feels like a bit of a catch-all, a day for those who don’t get their own special day, but how much more enjoyable to share the celebration with everyone!
The beginning of Advent reminds us of the promises of God, made real in the gift of Jesus at Christmas who becomes Emmanuel, God with us and what a huge comfort this is in difficult days for so many.
Finally, sandwiched in between, we celebrate Remembrance including remembering those who have gone before us, especially and particularly those who died in war. This year we remember those who have been killed on active service, but we also remember the civilian casualties and all whose lives are scarred by war. So many in the older generation have their direct memories, while my generation and those that follow are reminded that our peace is not what everyone has experienced, and we wonder if we have learnt anything from the sacrifices of so many men and women. Remembrance means we cannot forget the viciousness of war, the atrocities of war, the impact of war, the cost of war - lest we forget.
This month, I suspect many of us have cause to wonder quite what the ongoing impact of Covid will be, as we are anxious about rising fuel prices, the cost of heating, food costs etc, and when Climate Change is at the top of the agenda at COP26 the context of our living can seem overwhelming.
Our hope lies in what can be revealed this month. Firstly, All Saints reminds us of our connection with all God’s people and his presence with us in the world; Remembrance stirs our hearts and minds to consider the impact of our inhumanity and at Advent call to be watchful and alert gives us the assurance that God will never abandon us.
It’s true that Covid has put a strain on our sense of community and in some cases, we have responded so well, but in other cases Covid has exacerbated loneliness and sadness and depression; Climate Change and rising costs of fuel and gas can make us – in our anxiety - more prone to hold on rather than give. Yet if we are assured of our place in God’s family, and if we are assured of the coming of his Kingdom, then we can put the difficulties and challenges of life into perspective, acknowledging their reality, their seriousness, the impact (not least on others) but we shall not be overcome. We are part of God’s family with all the saints – we are living in a hurt and hurting world – but we are heirs of the promise which is guaranteed in Jesus: I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you (John 14 v 18).
With Every Blessing,
The Link is a monthly publication by members and staff of Morningside United Church.