My apologies to those who quite reasonably feel that this blog has done nothing BUT focus on Remembrance from the beginning of November onwards...Having committed to post every day, I can't afford to waste a Friday Five, even if it is partly revisiting territory covered already.
So - this week's questions were variations on a familiar theme
1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day?
Oh we did indeed. Two distinct commemorations of All Souls - one aimed at the un-churched with whom we have contact through funerals (a substantial element of ministry here, with on average one each week since I've been in post) (Journey On - which I blogged at the time) and the other a traditional All Souls Eucharist, complete with lists of names of the departed, which was one of the most powerful experiences of my ministry here to date.
We also sandwiched in an All Saints celebration on the Sunday, which majored on Church on the Hill, whose patronal festival it is...Songs of Praise beginning with "Ye holy angels bright" and ending with the unsurprising but satisfying For all the Saints...
2. How about Veterans' Day?
For us it is Remembrance Sunday (the Sunday closest to 11th November, Armistice Day itself)- which we marked with big services in both churches, featuring Scouts, Cubs, Brownies, ATC, Sea Scouts and all sorts of other alarmingly young people in assorted uniforms. Church on the Hill being in thrall to the builders we actually worshipped in the Scout Hall, which was rather lovely as for once we were on their home turf....There were more than enough people to fill the hall, giving the feeling of a real community act.
In the afternoon some 200 plus filled church in the valley for their commemoration...At both services, the lists of names from the war memorials were read aloud and poppy wreaths were laid on the memorials..at both the 2 minute silence was observed, marked in the traditional way with the Last Post and then Reveille and those lines from Binyon's poem For the Fallen
"They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the evening
We will remember them"
3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break?
Not a bit of it...Extra work with additional services and special liturgies needed...
4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces?
Both my parents served in WW2, my father in the Royal Navy and my mother in the WRNS...She spent her war in the Orkneys, working as a coder/decoder while Daddy took part in at least one North Atlantic convoy and also saw action in Burma, where he was wounded and awarded the DSC...though I never discovered this till after his death. Poor Daddy loved the Navy so much, but was essentially a pacifist by the time I was born and hated all rituals and the national pride that somehow gets grafted on to the remembrance poppy. For this reason, if I weren't the de facto vicar of these parishes I would probably wear a white poppy in preference to the red each year - but the scope for misunderstanding seems too huge and I have no wish to diminish nor seem to denigrate the sacrifices of so many...Perhaps one year I will dare to wear the two poppies, red and white, side by side.
5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on? Not really...My parents are very present in so many of the characteristics and turns of phrase of my children, so in one sense I have a daily connection. I'm also very conscious of their presence amid "that multitude which no man can number" that gathers and celebrates with us whenever we break the bread and share the wine of Eucharist. The Catholic writer Margaret Hepplethwaite, widowed while still quite young, writes of her feeling that it is only at Mass that she gets to share a meal with her husband - and that same feeling is very real to me as well. They are all there, all those dear ones whom we see no longer...how could any personal ritual compare with that?