A message from the Rev’d Amanda Collinson

Posted by Admin on 26 October 2018, 6:09 pm

Amanda Collinson


St John the Baptist Church



Tel: 01983 294913

Email: amandacollinson01@gmail.com




We were at a friend’s wedding over the summer and the reception was outside in a marquee.  As the speeches began there was a distinctive sound of an aeroplane engine.  I tried to look out of the marquee windows up into the sky as did the guest next to me and before I knew it, the best man had stopped speaking.  Being ex-military himself he recognised he had some serious competition for our attention, and there was no point carrying on until this was over.  So, with the bride and groom leading the way, the whole wedding party went out of the marquee. Standing on the grass, faces turning upward in all directions, we searched the sky, shielding our eyes from the sun and then suddenly there it was – a Spitfire, climbing and manoeuvring, looping and turning. What a sight, what a joy, what a sound!  And the distinctive noise of a Spitfire was once again heard in our own town back in September at the funeral of Mary Ellis, the WWII Spitfire pilot, where there was a special flypast in her memory. There are not many noises that stop people in their tracks, but a Spitfire is one of them!
These planes have a significant place in our country’s history and despite being too young to remember WW2 (even though I was once asked what I did in WWII in a school visit!), I have been told the significance of these planes.  Furthermore, I hold some special stories and memories of those who lived through it through what I learned at school, from television and books, and more personally, from chatting to veterans whilst I was serving and since I joined their ranks as a veteran too.  And as we commemorate 100 years since the end of the WWI this year there has been much more coverage than normal shown about this Great war but sadly with no veterans no living we have to rely on records and stories.
Stories and memories help us to understand where we’ve come from, and why things are as they are. As the years pass, and as the number of people who even hold a living memory of WW2 diminishes, stories become ever more important.  The history books tell us about the famous personalities and political events of the time. Yet over 66,000 war memorials exist in the United Kingdom and most of the names on these monuments never made it into the history books.  I am slowly going through each name on the WWI memorial in our church and reading about them in the book some talented locals published.  It is great as through their hard work, each name on our memorial now has a story – a history, a family, a life.  I would really encourage you to have a look through the book yourself (we have a copy in the church or you can get your own copy at NW Stores) as the individual names we read out each year suddenly come alive through the story of their connection with Northwood,  the story of their military service and how and when they died. They are very diverse but what they have in common is that their lives were cut short as they worked, fought and died as part of the deadliest conflict in human history.
And this year on Remembrance Sunday, we will keep the story going of those who have fought for our freedom.  As a Christian, I believe we do not need to worry about our own stories being forgotten. Yes, time will pass, whole generations will pass away and human memories will fade. Most of us won’t be remembered by history for our heroic or remarkable contribution to society, but only by our dear family and friends. But Christians believe each human being, whether celebrated or anonymous in life and death, every one of us is fully known and loved by God. I once saw a WWI headstone saying, ‘Known unto God’ and whilst I remember thinking how true that was, its sentiments are yet so easily forgotten.  Our own unique lives and stories are part of each other’s stories, the story of our parish and ultimately of God’s great creation story.  What a privilege.
As one nation, on Sunday 11th Nov, we will remember the fallen, the veterans, the injured and those still serving in the Armed Forces, but this month may I also encourage you to remember the stories you were told as a youngster, remember the people that have been in your lives, remember those you have loved and have loved you, and be grateful that we have this time of peace within our lives to be able to stop, reflect and give thanks.
I wish you a reflective and reminiscent month of November.

Rev’d Amanda


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