This past week has seen numerous Remembrance “events”, local and national, including the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey. As local churches we have sought to join with our communities and contribute to our communities and I hope we feel we have done so.

It would be sad if our churches were not joining with and contributing to our communities.

We have also used our imagination and creativity and sought both from others in order to keep the essence even if the normal practice couldn’t happen. And we will have to do the same again for Advent and for Christmas.

We should take heart from what we have done this past week. We can offer spiritual resources online and through the post; we can come up with different ways to celebrate; we can still “do” it properly albeit differently.

And, yes, we are feeling weary in soul from the restrictions, the separations, and the ongoing uncertainty. And for many the economic hit is serious and livelihood threatening. Some are fearful for their mental equilibrium or for the mental health of family or friends.

At this time of year we always cope with extra darkness, but this year the darkness is not just from earlier sunsets. If it was, we would be sure the days would return. But the light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not / cannot overcome it (comprehended it not as the Authorised Version says).

I think we should take heart from how we have responded to the challenges of joining with and contributing to our communities this week, and we can learn too. What we planned to do when we thought churches could be open had to change. We can be confident that we will share the deep messages of peace, hope, comfort and joy that are the essence of Christmas even if it looks different and even though much that we might normally enjoy, may not be present.

Advent will soon be upon us, which should be a time for preparation. If we can’t prepare some of the externals, we may have more time to prepare the heart. Sometimes, maybe, the tinsel and glitter is a distraction from the light that has come into the world.

And in the coming weeks as we continue to pray for our world and the Covid crisis, we must not forget the war-torn parts of the world, those whose lives are blighted by poverty and or violence, and the ever-increasing challenge of Global Warming. We have remembered the past but we must also remember that our actions today impact on the lives of future generations. We pass on memories of sacrifice in war, but we must also pass on more than just memories of a world of beauty; we must work to pass on that world of beauty.

So encouragement and challenge – May God give us peace and strength.

Rev’d Peter Reiss: 13th Nov 2020