As we approach the season of Remembrance, one of my strands of thought is of those who, in the 2nd World War, were on the so-called “Home Front”. Though not military, they might have been in uniform: ambulance drivers, for example. Some left home for parts of the country they’d never before set eyes on: I think of a lady from my former parish who was sent to Coventry (literally) to work on munitions, having spent all her days until then in a small Fife village. Children were evacuated from the cities and some of them must have found life in a quiet, rural environment extremely strange, if not foreign.
Have you noticed that there are some parallels in pandemic-hit Britain today?
Some individuals, retired nurses for example, have gone back into uniform to serve the nation with the skills gained from years of experience. Others have left the convenience of their own home to live with a relative in need of care, or that relative has come to live in the carer’s home: new environments, different routines, perhaps involving a move from town to country or vice versa.
Children today may well feel they are in a foreign land even if they’re still in the same house or flat, for most of their leisure activities and social groups are not possible at the moment. The computer wizards may have found that you can actually have too much screen time and mum’s suggestion that they play outside in the garden is met with enthusiasm rather than reluctance.
At school they might have learned about people having to carry a gas mask everywhere they went. And now what are we doing? – carrying a face mask.
Out on the streets of their city, village or town, they’ll probably have seen people standing – in a long line, without much talking going on. Reminiscent perhaps of the discipline of their school playground, but the grownups are actually waiting to get into a shop, café or pub.
And surely that sight brings back memories to those who were children in the 1940s when their mums went out and stood in queues, at the green grocer’s perhaps, or the butcher’s, in the hope of getting something nice for the tea, if they were lucky.
Then there’s rationing. Again, our senior citizens will remember it well. But at the start of the pandemic, as the first lockdown loomed, supermarkets reintroduced it, in an attempt to prevent the public from stockpiling such humble items as toilet rolls or pasta.
Last but not least, the community spirit. Much talked of in connection with the War years. Much publicised today, not only by word of mouth on our own street but through the internet so that one act of kindness, done in accordance with Jesus’ teaching not to let the left hand know what the right is doing (Matthew 6, verse 3) goes viral – and people around the world get to hear about it, comment on it and, by God’s grace, copy it.
(photo of the Book of Remembrance in front of the Communion table, St Andrew's)
On this coming Remembrance Sunday we will be restricted in what we can do, but not in what we can pray – what Tim called this morning “our silent worship”.
We give our undying thanks for those who died that we might live freely
and we pray for peace among the nations of the world
through the Lord and Giver of Life, Jesus Christ our Saviour
to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit
be the glory for ever