1 August 2014
August 4th 1914 a whole generation was drawn into the world’s first global conflict. During its four years, the Great War would call upon seventy million men from twenty countries to do their duty. H.G Wells, writing in the newspaper at the time, commented “it would be a war to end all war”. How wrong he was.
When the fighting was over no one could say exactly how many men had been killed, but historians estimate that up to 10 million men lost their lives on the battlefield and another 20 million were wounded. None of the countries involved in the war realised how long it would last or how terrible the cost might be. Most thought it would be over in a few short months and that peace would return in 1915.
Enthusiasm greeted the outbreak of war in the capital cities of Europe; soldiers marched off expecting excitement, adventure and glory. Each nation had alliances to honour and old scores to settle. One old soldier left memories of an electric atmosphere, almost unbelievable: “we were excited about it and all ready to join in, because everything had been too peaceful almost until that time”.
But this would be no ordinary war; the massed armies faced a new generation of weapons, from barbed wire to rapid fire artillery and machine guns that spat out 600 rounds a minute—these all changed the very nature of war, and training was woefully inadequate on both sides. Soon both sides became bogged down in an impenetrable line of trenches that stretched from the Swiss border to the English Channel. Soldiers from all sides have left memories of the trenches and the tactics, the floods, the fleas, the casualties- the terrible nature and scale of the slaughter that shattered the old world order.
On August 4th there will be short readings of scripture and poetry, the reading of names from Tavistock, Gulworthy and Brentor War Memorials and prayers read on the hour between 8.00am and 5.00pm at St Eustachius’ Church in Tavistock. You are all very welcome to be part of this remembrance and come and go as you please.
If we do not remember where we have come from, we will not know who we are. Remembrance says something vital about our sense of identity, our sense of mutual belonging----not only with those around us, but with those who have gone before---and those who are yet to come. I
We do not live in a kind of perpetual year zero; we are bound together with our forebears, and with our children, including those yet unborn. Our obligations to honour the memory of those who have gone before, especially those whose lives were drastically foreshortened in war, is all a piece with our obligation to preserve for future generations the kind of society which has been nurtured in this land over many generations, and which we have received on trust: a society which is indivisible from its Christian origins and culture, however obscure those origins and that culture appear for so much of the time.
Our remembrance is nothing without hope, the Christian hope in the Word made flesh, this hope that neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. If our Christian faith cannot and must not disguise or evade the awfulness of war, and the atrocities that follow, then our Christian hope can look beyond into that Kingdom where the Son of Man reigns in glory. It is this hope which alone can begin to make sense of the mystery of suffering. The victims of war are not other people; they have been among us, one with us, they have been our neighbours.
Hope alone can make sense of suffering; indeed without that suffering, the suffering of Jesus on the cross, there is no Christian hope for salvation at all. The suffering of Christ was, is, always must be unique, for in his suffering God himself suffers in the human form which he took upon himself, and yet we have to say that in all who suffer, in the crippled and maimed, in all those who bear the wounds of war in body, mind or spirit, in the bereaved and those who mourn, the suffering yet glorious Christ is present too, hiding the wounded in the deep shelter of his own wounds. And death the last sleep, don’t you believe it; no it is the final awakening into new life with Jesus Christ our Lord.
On what will be hopefully a warm August day, wherever you are, take a few minutes to thank God for all the very many blessings he gives us day by day, and remember those ten million soldiers who gave their lives so that we may enjoy life in all its abundance. Pray also for those areas of the world where war still ravages lands and peoples, and let us ask ourselves by whose authority does war still prevail; is it the authority of Jesus who came with his Kingdom values of love, justice, mercy and peace, or the selfish idealistic notions of leaders of the nations and peoples themselves?
With best wishes to you all, Sue.
1 July 2014
God’s creative spring is over and now Glorious Summer is upon us!
Sally and I have been privileged this year to be visited by a multitude of people interested enough to spend time in our garden at Brentor. They have been able to stroll freely amongst the carpet of bluebells within our tiny wood and sit in tranquillity beside the River Burn. They have also been entertained by Barry Hodge from Gulworthy and his mighty sound of music as well as by the more exotic oriental tunes from Gypsy Train. Lastly they have been fed with Devonshire cream teas and cake, so heartfelt thanks to all of you who helped us to raise much needed funds for Saint Luke’s Hospice and the Mary Budding Trust.
Many people ask me what a Reader does so I will try to explain in as few words as possible. A Reader is licensed by the Bishop to preach, teach and minister within a parish and Sally and I have both been licensed for all the parishes within the Tavy Mission Community; the Tavys and Whitchurch as well as Brentor, Gulworthy and Tavistock. We have been rigorously trained for two years and have a volunteer’s agreement to serve for up to 10 hours each week.
During this time of interregnum, I was inspired by a short editorial by the Rev Stephen Cook in the final issue of ‘The Grapevine’ (the Northmoor Churches Weekly News) for Palm Sunday. It reads:
‘The work of the church depends on volunteers and we need to be careful not to load too much onto those we have. Sometimes that means that when no-one comes forward we have to stop doing things. Then we can perhaps ask ourselves what we can do with the people we have rather than who can do the jobs we have: they are subtly different questions.’
Now that I have become a TACT representative I am taking a great amount of interest in the Christian groups working alongside us and was moved by the joyful energy of the open air Pentecost Service in Bedford Square.
This month of July will be the first time we can enter Saint Eustachius’ through the new glass doors. This is the result of many months of preparation and a lot of hard work so we should be very grateful that we can enjoy the fruits of their labours. If the view is as attractive as the image on the notice board I have struggled to put outside church each Tuesday morning, we will see lots of new faces to be warmly welcomed INSIDE.
If like me you are interested in discussing the big issues, why don’t you join Andy Barton at 8.00 pm on July 6 at his lively and enjoyable Beer and Crisps session in the Union Inn? You will find good company and an opportunity to ask those big questions about God, which we all search to answer.
Several people have asked about the Tavy Youth Group so now is your chance to see it in action during the Sunday All Age Service at CHICKS in Brentor at 9.45 am on July 6 when we have a short service of praise and worship followed by breakfast and an opportunity to see this wonderful place. All donations will be given to Chicks. Everyone, young and old, will be welcome.
The Dante Quartet will be at the Wharf this year but music lovers can look forward to the Carnival Concert on the 16th and then the Exon Festival which starts on the 29th. What a month to look forward to!
As I stated in my last editorial, our mission is to bring others to hear God’s message of salvation. Now we can be helped to fulfil this mission as our glass doors inspire all who pass by so close to step over the threshold and enter in!
May the Holy Spirit fill us all!