This is a copy of my article for the NOVEMBER 2013 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’

November is a significant month for many in our community, as we plan two special events to remember those who are no longer with us.

The first of these takes place on Sunday 3rd November (the nearest Sunday to ‘All Saints Day’) when we hold our Annual Memorial Service at Christ Church in Perry Street at 3.00pm.  This service provides family and friends with the opportunity to remember their loved ones, especially those whose funeral services we have had the privilege to lead, in recent years.  We also read out the names of those who have been given to us and many people have found this service to be especially helpful.  It is not our intention, in arranging this service, to awaken difficult and painful memories, but rather, to remind ourselves of the peace, hope and comfort that God promises to give us in, and through, sad and difficult times in our lives.  It’s not too late for you to attend.  Please contact me or just turn up on the day. We’d love to have you with us.

The second of these events takes place on Sunday 10th November: Remembrance Sunday.  This is not a day, as some suggest, to glorify war, but rather, a day to remember those who gave their lives, and continue to do so, in conflicts around our world.  These sentiments are echoed in the words of the Kohima Epitaph, which rightly reminds us: “When you go home, tell them of us and say; for your tomorrow we gave our today.”  It is a day to remember the horror of war and vow to ourselves: never again. It’s a day to commit ourselves once again to the struggle against evil – the struggle against the very things that to lead to war in the first place and to remind ourselves of the freedom and peace God wants us all to have.

As we think of those who’ve lost their lives in times of war, we think especially of those who laid down their own lives for their comrades – the ultimate sacrifice made to save others. Jesus put it this way in John’s Gospel: “Greater love has no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.” We remember, of course, that Jesus sacrificed his own life on the cross so that we might have life – in this world and the next.

There is a special service at Emmanuel at 9.15am (lasting for 40 mins) on Remembrance Sunday when members of the Air Training Corps and Army Cadets join with us before we gather, with the Royal British Legion, Churches Together in Billericay and representatives of many of our community groups, at the War Memorial in the High Street, around 10.50am, for an Act of Remembrance.  May I encourage you, even if you are not a regular church attendee, to make a special effort to join with us on this most poignant of days?