I am being reminded as I get older how easily we can forget things. My wife asks me to get the meat out to defrost for our evening dinner before I go to work and on numerous occasions, as my wife anticipates, our menu changes simply because I’ve forgotten – again! Why is it that something so simple can be overlooked – is it really age? I suspect it has more to do with how much we try to fit into our minds as we meet the demands of our family and professional lives – forward planning and preparing but missing so much of the present. Someone once said ‘the more you think or worry about the future, the more you miss the joy of the here and now’. And it’s true. We often miss the wonderful things that are happening now like spending time with our children and others we love. I wonder what each of us can identify in own lives that could be set aside to make time for the really important things? There is also an element of reflecting on the past which must have a bearing on our futures. I’m not referring to living in the past or re-living mistakes, but using past experiences, good and bad, as a roadmap for the future.
We all know that November is a time when as a nation we stop for a brief moment to remember all those who sacrificed their lives in two World Wars and all other conflicts to date. But we stop only for a brief moment and no doubt most of us will continue in the fast lane of life and whizz past the memorials at the side of the roads as if they were commonplace street furniture. In recent years I have been encouraged by some letters my Great Grandfather sent back home to his wife. He was a Private in the Somerset Light Infantry in 1914. Never once did he complain. The only description he gave of the war was of a town in France that had been destroyed – he said ‘all the people have suffered, rich and poor folk are all alike, their homes are gone’. However, one thing that shines clearly in his writing is the humility and love reflected in his concern for those back home especially his wife and children. He encouraged his family every time he wrote, “cheer up, keep smiling, better days coming” and his faith in God kept hope alive each day. Sadly, he died in action on Nov 2nd 1914 in the Battle of Ypres. It’s only when I make the time to rest and reflect on these things that I am able to appreciate the sacrifice of other people’s actions and allow them to have an impact on my life.
When we look back further in history we discover another person who has had a tremendous impact on millions of lives and continues to do so – Jesus Christ. It is only because I pause to spend some limited time to reflect on God’s goodness and provision for our lives that I am able to ‘cheer up and keep smiling’, knowing that God has ‘better days’ ahead. On Sunday 11thNovember at 10.45am we will be gathering around the Cenotaph in Lisvane which bears the names of people who paid the ultimate price for their country. What I find remarkable is that their names are etched on the symbol of the greatest price ever paid for all of humanity. We will be gathering around the Cross, a symbol that represents extreme torture and shame, but also a selfless act of love by the only One who has the authority to reconcile people back to the Father. Not only does the cross symbolise a great victory over evil, as do all the names written on it, it also represents a new command, a new covenant instituted by the Lord Jesus Himself – a command to love – to love God and love our neighbours. Who are our neighbours? All peoples of all nations. And it is through all these sacrifices especially that of Jesus Christ, even the sacrifice of our own time to pause for a moment, that we create opportunities for all people to come together and enjoy the life that God intends for us.