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Hallo again to all.

Advent begins in just three weeks. Advent, of course, is a period of time in which we prepare ourselves for Christmas and the events surrounding it. We recall that in one recent year we were almost frantic before Advent, inquiring aloud about the possibility of having a period of time formally devoted to preparation for Advent. That's silly, of course, but if you want to experience Advent to its fullest, perhaps now is the time to start pushing the roar of daily life a bit towards the edges of your being.

Poppies in a fieldYesterday was Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Poppy Day, Veteran's Day, observed around the English-speaking world under one name or another. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we're asked to be silent for a minute or two or three (depending on how many wars we're supposed to be remembering) and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many people in wars whose cause and purpose is now the subject of examination questions in history classes. Ever grateful for all sacrifices that contributed to the good life we lead now, we stopped in silence when our wristwatch indicated that time, since in our community there was no organised observance.

Yesterday was also Martinmas, the Feast of St Martin of Tours. By legend, Martin did not want to be made a bishop and hid in a stable from those wanting to lay hands on him, but the stable was full of geese who honked to reveal his hiding place. So traditionally one eats goose on Martinmas, and we smile at the thought of a roving gang of bishops forcefully laying hands on unwilling victims to consecrate them against their will and then thrust a crosier into their hands. There are various back stories about the link between St Martin and Armistice Day, all of which we suspect were contrived by modern-era publicists. Martin has been dead for about 1600 years, and his biography recounts an amazing sequence of demolition and destruction of the buildings, monuments, and sanctuaries built in his honour.

War, remembrance, geese, and forced consecration. But that was yesterday. We remembered and we prayed. Today we must turn our attention to the news of today, to the Anglican news of today. Arctic cathedral being demolishedConsidered in a vacuum, current news about our church can seem dire. Phrases like 'in crisis' and words like 'schism' are bandied about. In the light of the war and death that we remembered yesterday, it seems a bit silly today. Yes, there can be crises, such as an occasional cathedral or church being destroyed by an arsonist. And a man who desperately wanted to become a bishop (no need for geese there) can try to lead his diocese out of the church that consecrated him. But no one has died in these feuds. There aren't hectares upon hectares of grave sites, there aren't armies destroying churches as they invade. We can give money to help rebuild the damaged churches and cathedrals; in truth, any problem that you can solve with money isn't really a problem, is it?

In the context of real crises, we shan't wring our hands over synthetic crises, nor warnings of the death of the church or death of the Anglican Communion. We respectfully remember the wartime deaths of so many soldiers for so many centuries, and offer thanks to God that our modern Anglican weapons of choice are not missiles but communiqués.

See you next week. We'll be starting to prepare for Advent.

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Last updated: 12 November 2006

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