Colin Perry RIP
We are sorry to announce that Colin died earlier this week. We offer our condolences to Gabrielle and her family. Colin’s funeral will be at Holy Trinity next Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Jill Pirdas writes: I would like to thank all those who helped make the aperitif for the Episcopal Convocation such a success. People were most generous and the donation came to 1.177 euros which is a magnificent result. This will be sent via the Global Giving platform on a bonus day which means that another 30% will be added.
The Act of Remembrance
The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Crimean War), Roger Fenton 1855
(V& A Museum, London)
Next Sunday is Remembrance Sunday.
The Act of Remembrance will be at the beginning of the service this Sunday. Please be sure to arrive in good time.
How we remember
The way we view the two world wars depends on our upbringing and family circumstances. My mother and father were eighteen and twenty at the outbreak of war in 1939. Both of their fathers had served in and survived the Great War. Both lost a relative in the world wars: my mother an uncle in the first and my father a brother-in-law in the second.
As I grew up, my parents would talk about air raids, rationing, and my father about his war service in the RAF, which took him to Italy, Iraq, Palestine, and South Africa. My mother would describe her time in the Land Army and double daylight saving.
We describe them as ‘world’ wars but my family and I regarded them through a British lens. I’m sure that it was different for French and American families. For the French, both World Wars involved invasion and fighting on their territory. For Americans the First World War began in 1917 and the Second World War at the end of 1941, after the Japanese attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbour.
On Sunday, we will have British, Americans, French and other nationalities in church. We will each bring a distinctive personal perspective to the remembrance.
The destruction of the Temple foretold
The gospel for next Sunday has the destruction of the Temple foretold.
The recently built Temple in Jerusalem – which features in Sunday’s Gospel – must, in all its magnificence and solidity have seemed indestructible. One of Jesus’ disciples exclaimed, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’
It must have been impressive. Construction had begun in 20 BC and it was still not quite finished fifty years later. It was sited on a mountain and was the equivalent of a modern fifteen story building, about 200 metres long by 45 metres wide. Some of the individual stones used in its construction weighed as much as 500 tons.
Built of white marble, it was adorned with gold outside and inside with gold, silver and finely polished cedar. It was seen as the place where God made his earthly home.
But Jesus tells him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’
This was what later happened. The Romans built great fires at the base of the walls, and the intense heat caused the foundation stones to crumble (under intense heat, the calcium carbonate in marble dissociates to yield carbon dioxide and lime—a gas and a powder). The walls collapsed under their own weight into great piles of stone. The Romans then spent many months levelling the stones. Thousands of the city’s inhabitants – perhaps hundreds of thousands – died. According to the historian Josephus, this was so that ‘future visitors to the place had no grounds for believing that it had ever been inhabited’.
Whether Jesus was simply remarking on the transience of everything, even the apparently most impressive and solid, we can’t be sure. It’s also possible that if the author of Mark were writing after the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD, he was simply worked this into his account.
It might seem that this simply an apocalyptic piece of writing (chapter 13 of Mark’s Gospel is often called the Marcan Apocalypse) – a prophecy of terrible things that would be revealed in the future.
But this isn’t strictly the case. Unlike most apocalyptic literature, chapter 13 is not concerned with signs that provide clues to the timing of future events. When the disciples ask Jesus for “the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished,” (v. 4), Jesus tells them of wars and natural calamities, but then says, “but the end is not yet” and “These things are the beginning of the birth pains” (vv. 7-8).
The two chapters before this one and the one that follows take us from Jesus’ Palm Sunday Entry into Jerusalem through a series of conflicts to his betrayal, arrest, Peter’s denial, the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Chapter 13, then, serves as an introduction to the Passion narrative (chapters 14-15)—a terrible time, but one that culminates in the resurrection (chapter 16). Such a message is of particular value to Mark’s church as it suffers persecution, but it is also of great value to Christians of all times who suffer difficult circumstances.