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As I write this in early October, on the horizon lies Remembrance Day.  As it happens, I will be in London with my family for Remembrance Sunday, though I doubt if we will try to get anywhere near the cenotaph in Whitehall – the crowds will be just too great.

 And of course the crowds that gather there will not all be old servicemen and women who literally remember the two World Wars of the last century.  Nor will they all be members of the armed services who have seen action at other times and in other places.  We should be grateful that the age in which we live has made it necessary for only a very small fraction of our population to become involved in the nation’s defence or in “peacekeeping” roles elsewhere in the world.  So where do the rest of the crowd come from?  Look at the TV and you’ll see that the answer is “from all ages, from all walks of life”.  There seems to be a great attraction for many many people to go and “remember”, along with the Queen and the Royal Family, eminent politicians and all those who are parading.

 But whatever we do on Remembrance Sunday we are plainly not all “remembering” in the sense of re-living our own past, nor are we “remembering” in the sense of recalling something that we have forgotten. 

 I wonder, have you got a good memory?  I recently asked those who had come to a church service what they remembered from their schooldays.  It seemed that the older people were, the better was their memory for old school lessons.  The significance of key dates that had been taught in school history lessons leapt immediately to mind – e.g. 1066, 1314, 1805 or 1815 (no prizes!).  And the capital cities of several countries around the world once again posed no problems for the older generation.  Younger members of my congregation found this skill of recollection less easy, and perhaps less relevant.

 I suppose that among the best things to remember from our schooldays are those things that are relevant and which can continue to influence us in our lives.  What in modern times we would call “people skills”.  Caring for other people, being good to each other.  Which brings me to my point.

 Here and there in the Old Testament we can read of times when God “remembered” his people, or certain individuals.  As you can imagine, no one had slipped God’s mind!  Instead, his “remembering” was seeing a need, and fulfilling it.  So should ours be.  In the month of Remebrance Day, remember each other, remember the needs of other human beings near and far, and remember how much you can do to respond to them.

(c) Copyright Bill Young 2002