Lent Blog 8 – Learning from the past

Today someone came to look at our war memorial at St Michael’s and take photographs of it. The images will be put on a national data base and we have been given permission to put them on this website once we receive them.

Recently there has been quite a lot of debate about all the coverage that the centenary of the outbreak of World War One has generated. Some fear that our acts of remembrance might only serve to reinforce national stereotypes or to open up old grievances, and certainly we have to be careful to give the right message in our commemorations. That’s why I for one am not sure about the wording on the St Barnabas memorial, which talks about “the wicked attempts of Germany to dominate the globe”!

But there is a good and right reason to remember. For the stories from the past in many ways shape who we are today. That’s a point particularly worth making in our hi-tech digitally interconnected age. We are constantly bombarded with new messages and new information, and it can hard even to find a link to yesterday’s news, let alone the news from last week. (Interesting to think that history now means the pages you viewed over the past six months – something I need to think about further).

Stopping and remembering involves tearing ourselves away from our computer, or smartphone, or tablet, and being ready to enter into silence, as we humbly reflect how our identity has been shaped by all those who have gone before. Maybe we can see here another reason for Lenten discipline – to stop and pray about how we have shaped by previous lives, both known and  unknown, and to ponder before the Lord for the stories of past generations that still resonate with us today.

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