Thought for the Week – 1st November 2020
Earlier this year, a member of the community in Billingsley made a record of all the headstones in the graveyard. This is now on our church webpage, www.stmarys-billingsley.org.uk/graveyard-project/. The inscriptions are usually simple; a name, the date of death and perhaps a short inscription. Sometimes we do have more to help bring the deceased alive. In the north-east corner of the graveyard, a memorial to 7-year old Eliza Mary Davies is topped by a statue of an angel; the grieving parents have added, “Girlie”, the pet name of their beloved daughter to the inscription. It is a grave I find very moving. But the memorials we have remember only a fraction of the departed who lie in the grave yard, which has been used for nearly 900 years. Over that time, Billingsley’s departed must run into the thousands; this small patch of ground is their last resting place.
The start of November is when the church remembers the departed. We start with All Saints, those who have been judged to have led lives of particular merit. The following day is All Souls, we move from the spiritual superheroes to the rest of us. It is probably as well not to make too much of the difference; the New Testament often refers to all believers as saints. But how can we possibly remember all those who lie buried in our local churchyards, the vast majority of which we can never name? Well, in all honesty, we are probably most likely to think of our own loved ones, or perhaps at a stretch, people like Eliza, whose lives have been reconstructed by historians. But the Christian church has the perspective of eternity, of a God who is everlasting and whose love is everlasting. At All Souls, alongside our own memories we can give thanks for a God for whom every person who has ever lived, every soul, matters.
Rev David Poyner