As many of you know a group of us from St Nicholas are on pilgrimage next week. I’ve never been to the Holy Land before. In preparation for my trip I’ve revisited Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s wonderful work on Jerusalem. If I’m honest, I’ve always been a bit indifferent towards visiting the Holy Land. There are elements of the political landscape that have disturbed me and even among the Christian community a level of rivalry and intolerance which seemed a little incomprehensible. Yet for all the challenges it is still the Holy Land. Revisiting Montefiore has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on the chaos of this land and place. If Rome is about the Church, and I think it is, then Jerusalem is about God. Where the Church in Rome is organised and controlled, Jerusalem is a melting pot of ideas and religions, as the meeting point of the world’s three great Abrahamic faiths, it is bound to be chaotic. Where Rome seems to have pinned God down through doctrine and creed, Jerusalem represents a place where God cannot be pinned down at all. I love the idea that God cannot be pinned down – it’s messy, it’s dangerous, it’s chaotic, but it prevents us human beings getting ideas above out station…
I just thought you would like to see a photograph of progress. As you can see the roof is on. If you would like to make a donation, however large or small towards the final instalment of £5,000 which we are due to pay by the end of the year please see me or one of our churchwardens.
As we approach Remembrance Sunday this year, the hundredth anniversary of the ending of the Great War, we are reminded of so much very moving poetry and prose that has been written on the subject, mostly by men. There has been far less published by women authors and poets, one of the better-known books being Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.
I recently came across the poetry and prose of the American author, heiress, suffragette and nurse Mary Borden, written while she was running a field hospital close to the battlefront. I reproduce below one of her less well-known sonnets which reminds us of the loneliness and helplessness of the women awaiting the fate of their beloved menfolk.
High on the dreadful mount of solitude
Upon the eve of the stupendous day,
High where the agonies of heaven brood
Above the vast invisible array
Of spellbound armies crouching in the dark,
Watching the licking lurid light that runs,
Along the wounded earth, I stand and hark
To the gigantic prelude of the guns.
Somewhere out in the breathless throbbing night
Under the palpitating stars, you wait
The awful dawning of this pallid light
That will decide a panting nation’s fate.
And you will go to death or victory
While I attend upon our destiny.
In our parish mass this Sunday we shall be hearing the background stories of some of those brave people who lived in our parish and lost their lives during the Great War.
With every blessing