Reflection on the readings for Remembrance Sunday 2020
Remembrance Sunday, the day we remember. We remember those who have fallen, we remember a past which sometimes seems distant and surreal. Especially for younger generations who have not lived through a war. But through remembering the past, we may also remember the future. And our Gospel reading of today reminds us of that. The wise bridesmaids probably had some experience with bridegrooms running late, or had heard a story from a friend of friend that said; prepare for the unexpected. And when the moment comes for the bridesmaids to fulfill their duties, the foolish were not ready. Did they forget to bring extra oil, were they distracted by other things, or did they choose to not see the wise bridesmaids carrying their extra flasks of oil? By not paying attention, by not listening to the story of a friend of a friend, and by not recalling a previous experience, they ended up being shut out. And told: “Keep awake.”
Those five wise bridesmaids looked at the past, and prepared for the future. They were awake, they were paying attention. Are we paying attention? Are we looking at the past? Are we learning?
When I think of war, I think of the pictures in history books, young boys with muskets. In my mind war is a very primal action, starving and cold in trenches with people on both sides who don’t know each other. Let alone hate each other. War comes from higher up, leaders disagreeing, politicians deciding. There are still wars going on in other parts of this world, and it is still a reality to many. Why? How? Did they not look at the past? Did their leaders not learn from past mistakes? And what about those carrying war with them, in their bodies when they come here. Are we listening to their stories?
We are remembering bloodshed, young lives swept away unjustly. And it is good to remember them, all of them, the ones we can name, and the nameless ones. The ones in uniform, and the ones in civil clothing. The ones in 1918, but also the ones before and after who gave their lives. However, let us not only remember the destruction, fear and tears, but also the joy and relief when it is over. If you look at testimonies of the moments after peace is announced, it always shows strangers hugging strangers intrinsically linked through the one thing they have in common, war. Finding comfort in each others company to celebrate freedom again. Finding each other in a new world, as changed people. Finding hope.
Those bridesmaids who were prepared, who provided light and were ready, were invited to the wedding banquet. Let us be prepared and ready and shine a light. Look for it, remember it.
What do we see when we look at the recent developments in the world?
I find hope in people offering up spare bedrooms after the attacks in Vienna, to those who could not get home anymore. I see light in those standing up to unnjust behavior with for example the Black Live Matters Movement. I see readiness when I look at those who have gathered here, in this church and online with our one binding factor. Our love for Christ, our trust in God. Our belief in Christ dyeing and rising again.
For that is what he teaches us, that is what history teaches us. And with that rising starts new life, a new world, a new journey.
So let us remember, and find moments today where we not only remember the bad, but also the good. And carry that with us into our future. Tell it to a friend of a friend so they will be awake. For our gospel reading today started with “The kingdom of heaven will be like this.”