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Rector’s Letter – October 2018
‘Christ Centred – Community led’
‘Greater love hath no man than this to lay down their lives for their friends’ (John 15v13), is an epitaph that is found on many of the war memorials up and down the country. Dr Michael Snape, Reader in War, Religion and Society at Birmingham University explains why so many communities chose this particular verse 100 years ago, when he says, ‘Jesus is speaking about himself, but also about those who lay down their lives for their faith’. The biblical verse reassured many that their loved ones died for the highest possible purpose and that all was not in vain.
The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected as a result of the loss of three quarters of a million British. We have several war memorials in the Benefice where the ‘Cross of Christ’ features prominently to remind us of the great sacrifice given by so many for the cause of freedom. The most notable is the Grade 2* listed War memorial at Rogate designed by the noteworthy architect Sir John Ninian Comper (who incidentally said it was one of his finest he had designed) and sculpted by the equally renowned William Drinkwater Gough.
We are reminded that War memorials were not erected to celebrate triumphs of war but to mourn her dead. Former Archbishop, Rowan Williams put it well when he says, ‘Remembering them, not stereotyped victims but as people with agency, emotion, sceptical humour and passionate trust – this is not an empty convention but an act of faith in the fullest sense’. This is what we have tried to do here in this benefice these past four year, as we commemorate those who fought in The Great War; to contemplate the grace of these ‘ordinary lives’, dearly loved, who once formed part of our community, who experienced such horrors and who sacrificed so much for our today.
It is right that we remember. Come and join us for our varied and special WW1 services that will take place this month (7th October) and next (4th, 8th, 10th and 11th November.)
I would like to conclude with my thanks to the Parkers of Trotton Place for hosting the Trotton Fete & Duck race in their wonderful grounds, and, to Di Hodgson and her team for all their support in raising over £3,500. It was a truly spectacular event that brought many together.
Yours in Christ,
PS Please note changes to the Pattern of Services on 14th/21st/28th October in the Benefice. (See list of monthly services in Bulletin/Church News for more details).