Clergy Newsletter for November, by the Rev’d Derwyn Williams
I heard somewhere that there are 2 kinds of memory: hot memory and cold memory. Cold memory deals with the recall of facts – the simple memory of what happened when and where. It doesn’t move the soul or stir the heart. Hot memory is different. It’s when you remember something and feel as if you were there again. It’s when something from the past bursts into the present and feels just as real as the day it happened. It could be the memory of a birth, or a death, a wound or a joy, which ambushes us and turns the clock back ten or fifty years. Cold memory doesn’t really affect us. Hot memory reminds us how we became who we are, and carries on shaping us for the future.
I wonder what temperature your memories of World War One have been, these last four years? I don’t mean personal memories, of course. World War One is now a matter for corporate, historical memory. But I wonder how it has felt to witness, or participate, in the variety of centenary activities which have been occurring since 2014? There has been much on the TV and the radio: documentaries and dramas, and news coverage of many international memorial events, like the anniversaries of Paschendale and the Somme. Has it mainly felt a bit cold and distant? Or has it touched us with its heat and fire?
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 2018 it will be exactly 100 years since the Armistice which ended World War 1 came into effect. It was meant to be the war to end all wars, but the history of the last century teaches us how false that hope would prove to be. While the Armistice brought a welcome end to the carnage that had consumed Europe since 1914, it concealed many tensions, suspicions and hatreds. These would break out in future conflicts, hot and cold, whose consequences still shape our world today.
So whether or not your memory has been exercised much with WWI commemoration these past four years, might we make Remembrance Sunday 2018 a moment of which we take serious note? Can we make it a day to remember the past, and really commit ourselves to peace in the future? Can we ask God to make it a time for memories which are hot, and life-shaping: not just the cold memory that goes through the motions, recalls dates from history then returns to business as usual?
For, as Christians, we embrace the hottest of all memories each time we celebrate communion. We don’t just recollect that Jesus did certain things a long time ago, for the sake of interest and information. Rather, when we remember him through his body and blood, he becomes real to us once more. The Jesus who bore the pain and sin of all the world’s battles and wars enters our lives with his grace and healing, giving hope that his peace must one day rule, in our hearts and our world.
This Remembrance Sunday may we remember hotly, both the furnace of war, and the fire of Christ’s love.
Blessings from Derwyn.