Issue No 167
Magazine for the Irfon and Wye Valley Churches November 2014
Remember, Remember by Revd Benedict Griffith I’m sure that all of you reading this can complete the remainder of this well-known rhyme about Guy Fawkes Day. It is, it seems to me and extremely appropriate reminder to remember as we enter the month of November and with it the season of remembrance. For many people it seems, November is little more than a stopgap along the headlong dash towards Christmas. Yet, the moments of remembrance that we observe this month are and should be extremely significant and we overlook them at our peril both as individuals but also as a society. The Church opens this season of remembrance by celebrating the feast of All Saints or in old English “All Hallows” which, of course, provides Hallowe’en with its name because October 31st is the eve of All Hallows. As Christians, it behoves us to recall that the Halloween celebrations with which we are so familiar are little more than a syncretism between the Christian festival of All Saints with customs from the pagan and Druidic celebration of Samhain celebrated here in preChristian days and it is worth recalling that Halloween is at its heart a Christian festival despite the witches and hobgoblins with which it is now associated. All Saints Day itself on November 1st provides Christians with an annual opportunity to give thanks for the example of that incredible multitude of men and women, who down the ages and sadly even today have been shining examples of lives lived close to God. Although we may take our religious freedom for granted in this country today, the rise of ISIL in the middle East causes us to remember that even now men and women are giving their lives for Christ and these are our brothers and sisters in faith. Here in Wales, we are the heirs of an incredibly rich and diverse heritage of holy men and women, many of whom are remembered nowhere else than in the dedication of many of our ancient churches including some within our own Deanery, Teilo, Padarn, Cewydd, Dyfrig, Afan, Cannen, Cadmarch and so the list goes on, just think of the dedications within your own parish. These are holy men and women who are recalled with gratitude here, but are all but unknown beyond our borders. As the Church in Wales as a whole and the church here in our own diocese moves towards the implementation of Ministry Areas, surely it is the example of these faithful Christians that we should be seeking to emulate, for they gifted us a uniquely Welsh Christianity and model of evangelism focussed upon the
historic Mother Churches, many of which are now quiet rural backwaters, such as our own Llanafan Fawr, but were once long ago the beating hearts and centres of evangelism across a wide area. Surely, our aspiration for Ministry Areas is that they will do exactly the same in our day. All Saints’ Day provides us with a yearly reminder to give thanks to God for the faithful witness of those past generations and to commit ourselves anew to follow their example in our own time. The Church follows All Saints’ with All Souls Day. It’s both intriguing and moving as you travel around the country to witness the posies of flowers or gathered personal memorabilia which mark the location where some tragedy occurred. For many this is regarded as a very modern phenomenon tracing its origins no further back than the outpouring of national grief which followed the death of Princess Diana in 1997, but the Church has been providing much the same service for generations, as even the most cursory glance around our churches and churchyards makes abundantly clear. All Souls Day is the focus of the Church’s celebration of the lives of those myriad Christians and especially those we ourselves have known and loved faithful, good men, women and children who’ve done their best in life but whose sanctity will never enable them to figure in any official or indeed unofficial hagiography. (Continued on page 10)
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Magazine for the Irfon and Wye Valley Churches