November is a very peculiar month. It is the month when the first signs of winter manifest themselves. With it come a certain form of solemnness and calm and a cold frostiness. The half-term break is over and children are back in school, the clock has changed and we get more hours of night time. With the celebration of All Saints Day on the 1st day of the month, followed by All Souls Day, many of us remember departed loved ones. In many parts of the world, it is a time spent with families and friends visiting graveyards and honoring the memories of the departed. In other places, many celebrate the eve of All Saints Day, through the now commercialized Hallowe’en celebrations. Young children and sometimes adults are encouraged to dress in a ghost-like manner and go from house to house, knocking on doors and asking for treats. Originally, Hallowe’en, as the name implies, was meant to hallow (respect) all the saints, souls and martyrs, men and women who have gone before us. It was by no means intended to be ghostly or scary, until it was made into a horror movie in 1978 by John Carpenter. Now, like many other festivals it has lost its meaning and significance through commercialization. A few days later, on the 11th November at the 11th hour, we remember those who lost their lives in the Great War and later conflicts in far-flung places and more recently in Iraq, Bosnia and other war fronts. In short, the month of November is a month to remember! Remembering for most us brings back many memories. Some of these memories are joyful, but some of them are sad. It is no wonder that most of us have the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or “the November blues” which is a lethargic feeling habitually accompanied by a feeling of sadness and emptiness. This feeling is often difficult to overcome and many people have remedies to help in overcoming it. It is often said that this is the month to eat lots and lots of chocolate, as this is believed to help in lightening up our moods. Some counsel that this is the month to go out as much as possible, go to the cinema, eat out with friends and get involved in as many social activities as possible, as loneliness is often a catalyst for November blues. Despite all this, in my opinion, the best remedy for this feeling is to know why we remember. There are many reasons for which we remember. We remember when we call to mind and think again about a person or event in order not to forget their significance and importance to us. The aim of remembering is to allow us see things with the benefit of hindsight and see what we could have done otherwise. We also remember because we want to retain in memory lessons learnt from a person`s life or events. The aim of remembering is not necessarily to make us sad though this is a by-product. We remember to rejoice in what was achieved by an event or person, dwelling on the positives and learning from their mistakes. As Christians, in addition and more importantly, we remember to keep the love and memories of our loved ones in our hearts, knowing full well that, as Jesus promised, our goodbyes are not forever, we will all meet again before God`s throne. Holding firm to this promise, this is why at we celebrate the life of our loved ones in the Time To Remember service at St Mary’s on Saturday 4th November at 4 pm. At this service, there is a roll call of departed loved ones and we celebrate and give thanks for their lives. We are not affirming that they had perfect lives but rather that in their imperfection and our imperfection God`s grace has saved us. We do this based on our faith in the Jesus who has promised us eternal life in a place where there will be no more sorrow and weeping: heaven, a place of continuous joy, peace and rest. So please join us on these dates to celebrate. Remembering could be a very difficult exercise and my prayer is that no matter what you are remembering this month, you will have the strength to dwell on the positives and find reasons to celebrate. As we know, after November comes December, so also after Remembrance Day comes Christmas. Therefore, as we wait in the ante-chamber of remembrance, let us look forward to the excitement of Advent and the joy of Christmas.
With every blessing. Folli