Who we chose to remember and why we remember them says a lot about ourselves and the society we live in. This weekend, Remembrance services will take place against the background of the horrible events unfolding in Israel and Gaza; let us not forget also conflicts in Ukraine, Yemen Armenia and Syria. There are conflicting voices about how those might impact on our own response to Remembrance; do we include them, are they a distraction, are they even a danger?
For those of my generation, one response is to focus on the individuals. I will not have personally known any of the fallen, but I often know their families; I am old enough to remember their parents or siblings and to have sensed their loss. I still remember the rawness when my great aunt, 60 years after the event, told me of how she and my grandmother heard the news of the death of great-uncle Ern, killed just a few days before the end of World War 1. He is not just a name for me on the war memorial in Ditton Priors church. By focusing on an individual, I find a personal connection between events far away, long ago. And even if I do not have that personal connection, there are now plenty of resources to tell the stories of the names that I can read and help me engage. And perhaps there is also a lesson to help us all respond to the current conflicts. A member of one of our congregations has recently shared her anguish over a friend, Mohammed Ghalayini, a Manchester civil servant now trapped in Gaza. By hearing his story, I find I can better respond, pray, for all those, Palestinians and Israelis, who are victims of the war there. Sometimes we remember best by getting personal.