Letter from the Vicar
Friday 11th and Sunday 13th November at 11am will once again provide the opportunity for us to pause for a couple of minutes from our daily routine and being busy, to remember and give thanks in the silence for those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy and share.
Outside of the anniversary commemorations (100 years of the First world war ending; VE and VJ 75…) we might be tempted to think that Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day are about the past, especially with the ranks of WWII veterans ever shrinking. But we should never forget the sacrifice made and the importance in our reflection to pledge to work for justice and peace in the world today that need to deliver greater freedoms to people, and build the vision that those we remember fought for.
We may think the Government have made a mess of the economy in our country and voice this in letters to MPs, or feel deep concern for those who will find this winter very challenging. There may be a variety of issues we feel strongly about and speak openly of them to others, whilst trying perhaps to bring change through our actions and behaviour. These, together with our expressions of faith, identity, likes, dislikes etc give face and meaning to freedom to express, choose, criticise, seek change and protest, and as long as we keep within the law and respect of others, these rights are upheld.
The crackdown in Russia against protest about the war in Ukraine; the unrest in Iran, and the unopposed election of the Chinese President for a third term remind us of the opposite of freedom when people are denied a voice, are held without trial or are convicted on false evidence, and where truth is deliberately distorted in a systematic way.
We know the `land fit for heroes’ never materialized in 1918 and the sacrifice of the lives of servicemen and women in Afghanistan did not ultimately deliver the hoped for freedoms that many Afghan people longed for and were beginning to enjoy, and we may say that war is futile and nobody should have to die for their country, which is true, but as we are witnessing in the defence of their right for freedom in Ukraine, people want to live with hope, opportunity and the freedom to live in peace and to make choices for their lives and the lives of their family and community.
It is easy to take freedom for granted, but it can be taken away bit by bit under all sorts of guises until there is little left, and what is left is surrounded by mistrust, fear and division that leads to further eradication of what we hold dear.
Let us remember and let us pledge in doing so that we will do what we can to never take freedom for granted and to use it to give voice to the powerless, the oppressed, the persecuted and the marginalised in the world as we strive to build peace and break down the walls and barriers that would divide and create enemies.
With love and prayers