Monday, breakfast time and the text arrived:
“Memorial work begun. It now looks clean!”
I smile, Reverend Ian has been waiting for the Stone Masons to arrive for weeks to begin work on the Village War Memorial within the Churchyard and it has been months since we first heard that the Local Authority would provide funding from Reserves ring fenced for community projects.
More than 10 years ago we knew that the names of the villagers lost in the 1914-1918 war were fast disappearing, eroded by wind, and weather, soon they would disappear and be lost forever. Malcolm and Richard, father and son, members of our church family set to with a will and researched every name with the War Office, visited the Battle fields and War Cemeteries in Europe, produced a booklet and preserved the names on boards displayed inside the church. I recall, as Church Treasurer promising Malcolm, who passed away this spring, that if ever the church suddenly had monies we would do something more fitting, more enduring. Prayers were said, the names outside went on fading, money never came.
But prayers are answered. Often when we least expect and in ways we don’t expect. In the closing days of last summer, out of a clear blue sky the Local Authority (I think friends in the U.S.A.) would say City Hall), approached us with the wish to restore the Memorial back to its former pristine-white and reinstate the names on new, harder stones.
The re-dedication of the restored memorial is planned for 28th September, 93 years after the original dedication, and the day before we celebrate the 90th Birthday of the present fourth, Church building on the same site.
“The timing is deliberate; the War Memorial reminds us of loss, struggle, human sin – still around us in the world today – and battles for good, mercy and truth we have to fight – with God/s help in our own hearts.”
Those are the words Reverend Ian has given me for the Church Magazine, he concludes his Pastoral letter with a reference to the 29th September which is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels reminding us that we belong to bigger, Christian Family, seen and unseen, he writes,
“Our names, like those on the original War Memorial may fade in time, but like them we will forever be precious to God who has ‘engraved you on the palms of my hands,'(Isaiah 49:16), and in Jesus he has given us life that will be forever.”
I cannot think of a better place to have my name written, engraved on the hand that holds eternity,
The picture shows the Memorial as it was around 1921, with the ruins of the third church in the background.