This is a copy of my article for the NOVEMBER 2014 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’

Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

Most of us will remember this ditty from history lessons at school, but do you know the next verse? “Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent, to blow up the King and the Parliament. Three score barrels of powder below. Poor old England to overthrow.”  Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night or Firework Night, remembers the events of 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. The people of London lit bonfires to celebrate the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life and the ‘Observance of 5th November Act’ of 23rd January 1606 introduced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure – something we are still celebrating today!

Christians remember 1st November as All Saints Day and this goes back to the fourth century when the Greek Christians introduced a festival to honour all Martyrs and Saints and Pope Gregory IV made All Saints Day an authorized festival in 837 AD. It is thought the date was chosen in an attempt to displace the pagan ‘Festival of the Dead’ which was celebrated on 31st October. Many churches use the nearest Sunday to All Saints Day to remember those loved ones who are no longer with us. The Billericay and Little Burstead Team Ministry hold an annual Memorial Service, which takes place on Sunday 2nd November at Emmanuel Church, Laindon Road, at 3.00 pm, and provides family and friends with an opportunity to remember those they have loved and lost as well as reminding us 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 (see below) or just turn up on the Sunday.

The Commonwealth remembers 9th November as Remembrance Sunday. This is not a day, as some suggest, to glorify war, but rather, a day to remember those men and women who gave their lives, and continue to do so in conflicts around our world, in the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  It is a day that should never be forgotten and one that we have a responsibility to pass onto the next generation.  There is a special Act of Worship at Emmanuel at 9.15 am (lasting for 40 mins) when members of the Air Training Corps and Army Cadets join with us before we parade, and gather, with the Royal British Legion, Churches Together in Billericay and representatives from many community groups, at the War Memorial in the High Street for an Act of Remembrance at 10.50 am.   May I encourage you join with us on this most poignant of days?

In this ‘month to remember’ we can take some comfort from the words of Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength in our times of trouble, whether the earth passes away or the mountains fall into the sea, whether the nations are in uproar or the earth melts …” And, because of that, and from what we know of the plans and purposes of God from the Bible, we remember God’s love for us, and our world, and remember, even though it can often be difficult for us to grasp and understand, that we will only find lasting peace when people and nations put their faith and trust in Him.