Comment by Harborough churches: The true meaning of remembering
Every week, the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week, it is the turn of Revd Hils Corcoran, Team Vicar in the Harborough Anglican Team
Viewpoint by Revd Hils Corcoran, Team Vicar in the Harborough Anglican Team (St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church, Great Bowden)
Recently the Anglican churches in Harborough held “Services of Remembering” for people who had lost loved ones. This is an annual tradition in November when we celebrate All Saints and All Souls, remembering before God those who we have loved and who are no longer with us. This felt particularly important this year in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 140,000 lives in the UK.
The word “remember” means, literally, to “re-member” – to “piece together” stories and memories.
As a vicar, I find it to be one of the greatest privileges to visit a bereaved family in their home, to listen to the memories of their loved one, and to begin to gather those memories together to capture some of their story for the funeral service. It’s as if I am starting off a jigsaw, piecing together the most memorable and important bits of that person’s life.
But to me, it’s more than memories, important as they are. I want to convey the essence of who the person was, how they might inspire us to live our lives, and what their life might tell us about God. I often encourage everyone to continue to tell their own stories as they meet together afterwards and over the coming weeks and months. Everyone has a piece of the jigsaw to contribute, and gradually the picture builds and the person is remembered and cherished more fully.
Over the last 18 months, many people have not had the opportunity to “re-member” in way that fully honours their loved ones, and we cannot underestimate the impact of this added sense of loss.
So, our Services of Remembering encouraged those who came to continue to think of their loved ones and to light candles as we remember before God those who we have lost.
Remembering has another meaning too: we remember so that we may learn from the past, to work towards a better future. This coming Sunday is Remembrance Sunday when we recall those who gave up their lives in times of war in order to secure peace for future generations. We often tell stories then too – sometimes stories of the horrors of war so that we can learn about its devastating effects so that we may strive for peace. We also tell stories of bravery and kindness, so we can be inspired by those who were sacrificial in the most testing of circumstances.
The following prayer forms part of our annual act of Remembrance to help you reflect on the theme of remembering and remembrance this November: “God, we hold before you those whose memory we cherish, and those whose names we will never know. As we honour the past, may we put our faith in your future, for you are the source of life and hope, now and forever. Amen.”
Revd Hils Corcoran is Team Vicar in the Harborough Anglican Team (St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church, Great Bowden)