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Saturday, 22 October 2011
November - the month of memory
Someone once described November as a month of memory. For me personally, the month is full of family memories - there are a few significant birthdays and my Grandparents’ wedding anniversary.
For us as the church, there is the feast of All Saints which reminds us of our heavenly home. The place that has been prepared for us is brought into our present as we remember those faithful men and women who, through Christ, have gone before us and are with God. The commemoration of All Souls is the day we remember those who have died and whom we have entrusted to God’s eternal keeping. We remember them and indeed each of us in prayer, that God would transform us all more and more into His likeness, and ready us for eternal life.
November is also the month, in which we as a nation remember those who gave and continue to give their lives in the name of war and in the cause of peace.
St Augustine of Hippo says that when we remember we literally re-member - we make present things that were once only in the past. In November, in that sense, we may well find ourselves surrounded by a great crowd of people and a swirling mist of emotions, noting that what separates life from death, heaven from earth, holy from earthly, is often very thin.
As All Saints turns towards Advent, the church dwells more on God’s call to people to be holy. For Christians this is never as simple as going to church. Nor is it the holy day or holy man or woman. Holiness is perhaps most simply understood as to do with the presence of a Holy God, something into which all of us are called, and into a relationship with Him and therefore each other.
Holiness is something we need to work at through the normal stuff of life - our marriages, friendships, decisions at work or in the home, on the board of directors and in trades unions. Holiness requires a daily application, but it’s never something we do, rather something God does in and through us - inspiring us to reveal in and around us the holiness of Christ and of those whom we call his Saints.
As a result, God calls us to holiness from where we are, not where we will be. He doesn’t see our anger, for instance, as something that detracts from our call to holiness. Rather He takes it and uses it as the raw material of our holiness. Nothing is too negative to be transformed by God into something posative, that’s what Christ’s life, death and resurrection mean.
Friends, as we enter this season, and hear again the call of a Holy God to be His holy people, we would do well to remember words of Mother Julian of Norwich about the way God sees us - He turns our wounds into worships.