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Join us for worship on Sundays at 10:00
- Please join us after the service in the Van Roon Community Hall for the HeBrews Café, refreshments and fellowship before continuing on with your day.
- We were saddened this week to learn of the death of Buella Fowler following a brief illness. A family service will be held for Buella in Brandon at a later date. Please remember her husband Doug and their family in your prayers.
- Through the United Church of Canada’s membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, an appeal for donations has been issued for the Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East. The Canadian Government has pledged to match all donations until November 12. For more information and to donate please visit: Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East Appeal
- For news and events please have a look at Life & Work on our website: Life and Work
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Welcome to worship for Sunday, November 5, 2023.
I don’t know about you but I am feeling a certain poignancy as Remembrance Day approaches this year. If a central reason for Remembrance Day is to remember times of great sacrifice in the past in order to foster gratitude in the present, it doesn’t seem to be working. Remembrance and gratitude are woefully missing in our world today.
One of the things that has been a gift to me, even though I came upon it by the sheer accident of timing, is the stories I have heard over the years from veterans of World War 2. I was ordained in 1989 when a WWII veteran who would have been 25 in 1945 was then 69 years old. As a consequence over the following 34 I have had the privilege of being present at the end of life for many, perhaps hundreds, of what some have called the greatest generation. I have been blessed to hear stories of life during wartime and all that followed afterward. Many people of this generation who were part of the churches where I have ministered were very generous in their sharing, in a way that makes me feel like I have been entrusted with a sacred gift.
More than that, as part of the generation who grew up in Canada post World War 2, I am keenly aware of the relative peace I have known my entire life. This is not something that can be said of my father or my grandfather whose lives overlapped with the times of Canada at war. For my generation, the task that has been given us is to remember the stories we have been told, and the people we have known, and to remain committed to the idea that this can never happen again.
Never again. That should be the rallying cry of Remembrance Day just as it for those involved in Holocaust education. Never again.
Yet it is a lesson that has never been fully embraced. And this year it feels as though it may be forgotten altogether. There is a war in Europe that bears such resemblance to the outset of World War 2 that one must suppose it is all but forgotten. Though it has dropped off the front page in the last month, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has all the hallmarks of that previous conflict. We now read of fronts and resistance and threats of expansion as if 1939 were playing itself out all over again.
In Israel, a country that came to life as a moral response to the horrors of the Holocaust, images greet us each new day of a terrorist attack and a predictable response. Roads in the Holy Land are filled with tanks instead of tour busses while refugees are pressed up to borders they cannot cross. The wake is death and destruction and devastation. We have seen this before but it cannot be said that we are remembering well what we have seen and heard from history.
I do not pretend to have answers that solve the crises of armed conflict around the world. I know that I wish rallies and chants would give way to dialogue and discussion. I know this can’t be the way God would have his beloved treat one another.
So I choose to remember. I remember the stories of my elders that have been shared with me in living rooms and church receptions. I remember the people who were once young and courageous but whom I knew as old and wise. I remember the times of sacrifice in my country’s history and how it connected to sorrow and devastation in other places. I choose to remember.
All in the hope that others will join in the prayer, never again, never again.
Grace and peace,
- Michael Wilson’s book “A Pastoral Pandemic: Remaining Connected in a Time of Disconnection” is available in store and online through CommonWord Bookstore (Canadian Mennonite University). For more information visit: https://www.commonword.ca/go/3408.
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- The reading for this week’s service can be found at: Matthew 5:1-12