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When hope and history rhyme

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 10 November 2013

Earlier this year, US Senator Joe Biden had to find the right public words after a tragedy.

Confronted with the mindless suffering of innocent people at the conclusion of the Boston Marathon, he had both to honour those who died and at the same time encourage those who survived to live on in hope. He was no stranger to personal tragedy. Years ago, while Christmas shopping, his wife and young son were killed in a car crash. His own life has been one of constant rebuilding from inside and his words expressing sorrow and optimism came from the heart.

Senator Biden stood at a similar poignant place as we do when we gather on the Sunday marked out as both Remembrance Sunday and our Patronal Festival. We will Remember, entering into the blood red of past sufferings and fall silent at the horror of it all. But we will not stay there. We will look for the hope emerging from our own patron saint, St Martin, whose torn red cloak is a not a discarded rag but a gift which brings life-giving protection.

In Church or Chinese Church or Connection or Crypt we listen to each other’s stories, acknowledging the frayed edges of our past hurts. However, we aspire to be more than Remembrance mourners, looking back. We are St Martin’s people, given God’s grace to work and love and hope for better things.

The poetry Joe Biden chose for the “looking back, looking forward” crowd in Boston could also be our inspiration on the day when Remembrance and our Patronal Festival are coupled together.

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

(Seamus Heaney from The Cure at Troy)

Rt Revd Peter Hullah