REFLECTIONS - LOOKING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS


Remembrance Sunday always provides a necessary time for reflection and pause especially following on, as it does, from All Souls. The Christmas message of hope and joy is around the corner but what now? What about this period sandwiched between both?

Looking backwards and looking forwards could be seen as a theme of Christianity across the board. Lot’s wife looked back and her story reminds us to obey God and continue forward, the people of Israel looked back many times and reflected that they had been better off under slavery: they struggled to appreciate the here and now and the promise of a Messiah ahead. It is human nature to look at the (sometimes) halcyon days of the past whilst hoping that there will be something better around the corner but to actually forget about the here and now and how good it is or could be. And, whilst we sometimes welcome the prospect of a new and better future, we can also neglect to put in the effort needed in the present day to actually achieve it for our own personal and professional lives.

It is also important for those who have regrets not to look back with shame or unhappiness based on whatever action keeps holding on to them but to realise that they cannot have a happy life without looking forward. After all, if we are truly sorry and have moved on with God, then he has forgotten about those things too.

As Paul says, “…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Thinking specifically about veterans and their families at this season, the period around Remembrance Sunday lends focus and comfort to them as the whole country remembers with pride and gratitude. However, that focus and attention is short-lived – what next? Buying a poppy is not just about that one act of giving money to the British Legion or remembering for a few weeks in the year, we should give respect and comfort to veterans and the elderly throughout the year because of what they have done. They shouldn’t suddenly fall from grace again until the allocated calendar slot comes round again in 2018.

Christmas, too, is synonymous with charity appeals like Band Aid and all charities vamp up their efforts for Christmas appeals. Do we happily toss some coins cheered by the Salvation Army band in the weeks before Christmas? What about helping them throughout the year? Are we also happy to help out Crisis (our November charity), especially when we see the ‘Christmas’ dinner appeals? Is it enough to feel more contented with ourselves in the season of excess because we’ve enabled a homeless person to have a turkey dinner and an overnight stay? What about the rest of the time?

It is easy to get caught up for a few days by the scale of events which bookend this period of the year: On One side memories and on the other side hopes and resolutions. Encouraged by our forefathers, but not unduly distracted by the circus which Christmas can be, let’s use this time to look at the here and now. If we’re not happy, let’s do something about it now and not simply hope 2018 will be better. If people connected to us are down, let’s do something active to help them now before maudlin drinks and wistful leads to unfulfilled plans on New Year’s Eve. If we haven’t given enough of ourselves to help people who need it, let’s do it now and not wait to think about some Christmas donations or inviting someone around for that annual mince pie. And, if we’re forgetting to live in the here and now, let’s take a good look in the mirror, realise we’re not getting any younger and live for the moment. After all, ten years from now, we could still find ourselves looking back to 2017 and wishing we were there although we didn’t appreciate that at the time.

Jane Cleland Holmes Payne


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About Relections

Reflections is a space on the website for special or occasional articles that do not fit easily into one of the regularly updated pages.



Pieces for consideration can be emailed to either the parish office, or to the website editor Nick Reynolds
 
nickr306@talk21.com
 
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