Vicar's Blog ~ November 2018
Here are the words of a hymn written by Canon Rosalind Brown, who recently retired from Durham Cathedral:
Once we had dreams, dreams of a new beginning
When we had fought the war to end all war,
A world of peace, where people live in freedom,
A world where justice reigns for evermore.
And yet, and yet, each year as we remember
We know too well how subtly dreams can fade.
In this our world where peace is often fragile,
Where war and hatred grip, where children die,
Too easily our hearts are dulled to suffering,
Our ears are deafened to the hopeless cry;
We fail to grasp the call to be peace-makers,
We act in fear and let the vision fade.
Still we need dreams: O God, make us your dreamers,
Inflame our passion for a world made whole,
A world where love extends to all a welcome,
Where justice, like a powerful stream, will roll.
Come, Prince of Peace, our fading hope rekindle,
“Your kingdom come” we pray, let peace be made.
©Rosalind Brown 20/10/2000
Four years ago we began a period of Remembrance which brought into focus a series of events that encompassed the significant and tragic milestones of the Great War. In 2014 we ‘marked’ the beginning of hostilities, avoiding any sense of celebration or even commemoration of the beginning of a war. Subsequently we have observed anniversaries of particular and extended battles, of the Somme, of Verdun, Passchendaele, Ypres and others. We have done so in a spirit of not only remembrance but reflection, regret and resolve. We have remembered the sacrifice of the dead; we have reflected on human nature; we have regretted the calamitous carnage of war that seemed to begin rather than end all other wars, and we have resolved to strive to peace. Yet current conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Africa remind us that the reality of world peace still requires an outpouring of co-operation and international understanding that remains elusive.
Nevertheless we now arrive at the centenary of an event that can and must be celebrated and commemorated in a spirit of hope. As we revisit November 11th 1918 a lifetime later, we owe it to our predecessors and our successors, to make something new of this anniversary. It is time to turn the page on the glorification of those who can no longer be with us to be thanked, and to reflect not only on what their legacy has been, but on what it can and will still be. The First World War gave us Remembrance Sunday, a parting shot of peacefulness and hope whose echoes resonate loudly over the plains of peace and hills of war that have followed. As we look back to 1918 we can sigh with relief that our reliving of the last four years is over, but we must also reflect on what the next century of remembrance should look and feel like, both in and outside of our churches. The past lives in us, but we cannot live in the past.