Not so many years ago I wrote this time of year beginning with:
“What really is the difference between the commemoration of an atrocity and the perpetuation of a grievance?”
Some version of this question (though usually more emotive and less articulate) has been floating around for many decades; making reference to the various and ever increasing Memorial / Remembrance type days across the world, marking the conflicts local and indigenous, as well as further afield; making reference too to an increasing number of people groups (what used to be called ethnic minorities) whose genocides and other atrocities never made it into the history books; making reference to Truth Commissions and other such bodies.
This coming Sunday is Remembrance Sunday in the UK (and thus in Church of England liturgy) as well as in some of the Commonwealth and ex-colonial countries. That number shrinks annually as nations choose their own date to mark more local conflicts, although in this way they still mark the sacrifice of very many nations who fought not only in the world wars, but in the countless conflicts across our world throughout the rest of the 20th Century, and of course that number will shrink significantly more in coming years as under a new monarch historic allegiances shift and relationships change.
We all thought the world had moved on. Yet more people than ever live in Conflict Zones or attempt to escape from them. The political changes, including election results, across Europe and in the States, with the Far Right gaining traction even in surprising places, have seen an unprecedented rise in race related crimes and violence. We none of us imagined living with a conflict ‘on our doorstep’ and yet this is not a conflict but a sifting and shifting of power that have global implications for decades to come. What began in the local micro has intensified and escalated to the macro.
We at St Catherine’s are an International Worshipping Community. Pulling all these threads together we offer yet again a Peace Service next Sunday, this year prepared and led by one of our Associate Priests. Our focus will be on praying for peace in our world and in local contexts, and our role and commitment to peace, beyond prayer. I hope it will be a service All members of St Catherine’s will find relevant and engaging. It will of course be set in the usual Eucharist which in itself is as profound as it is challenging. The tweens will engage in their own peace-focus learning.