St. Alban the Martyr

Vicar's Letter November 2018

27 Oct 2018 • General news

When I was newly ordained and serving my title in Cardigan I remember visiting a man who had served in the merchant navy during the Second World War. He told me a story that really brought home to me the horrors of wars. The ship he was serving on was in a convoy across the Atlantic when it got torpedoes and stared to take in water. The ship was lost and everyone had to abandon ship. A man stood outside the door of his cabin and refused to move, no one could get him to come with them. When the ship was torpedoed its frame buckled and his cabin door was stuck fast. Inside were his wife and family, trapped. The ship was sinking fast, there was not enough time to cut open the door, the mother and children were going to die. There was no hope for them. The man stayed by his cabin door with his family as the ship went down. As water filled the gangway and cabin he stayed there listening to his children crying and screaming, trying to comfort them, until they were silenced by the cold water.

Unfortunately, when we remember, we are often selective: we forget challenging events. For many, Remembrance Sunday is about glorifying the British role in two World Wars rather than thinking about the waste of young lives. Those who have served in wars rarely make this mistake because they know how horrible war is, but as their generation dies and we only have their captured memories, we recreate the past in the image of our current prejudices.

November is a month of remembrance; we remember all who have died on All Soul’s, and on the 11th of November and Remembrance Sunday those who have died in war. We remember gunpowder plot and Guy Fawkes on the 5th of November.

As a church we are engaging in an act of remembrance about our own and our community’s history. As part of our HLF grant Chris has undertaken an immense research project about the history of the church. We are also hoping to undertake a community arts project based on remembering and celebrating the heritage of Highgate. Our greatest act of remembrance though, is the mass, an act of remembrance that becomes a present reality.

November is not just a season of remembrance it is also The Season of Saints, starting as it does with All Saints. The Common worship liturgy can be modified to celebrate November as a Season Remembrance or a Season of Saints. Celebrating the saints is an act of remembering, but like the mass it is a remembrance that should make the past present. When we remember the lives of the saints we should think about how we can emulate them in our lifes today.

This month I urge you to think about your favourite saint, remember their lives and try to imitate them in your own life.