Remembering those we have lost 

November is a time for remembering those we have lost in a special way. Not only do we keep Remembrance-tide around November 11th to commemorate  those who have died in conflict, but also the Christian church has for many centuries kept the feast of All Souls on November 2nd,to remember all the departed in prayer before God.
 
Most years in St Mary’s Church we hold a service of Remembering around All Souls’ Day, when people come and light candles for their loved ones. This year, of course, is different. We cannot hold a service with more than a few people present, so we should like to offer another kind of opportunity for remembering our dear ones in God’s presence, and we would like to invite not only families who have shared in funerals led by members of the St Mary’s clergy, but also anyone else who has recently lost someone, who might find it helpful to come to church to commemorate them.
 
On Sunday, November 1st we shall be keeping the church open after the morning service from
11 am – 4 pm for families to visit, in groups of no more than 6. We plan to have four tables decorated with flowers and candles, in different corners of the church, where families can place a photo of their loved-one, and perhaps one or two mementoes which bring them to mind, and sit around them sharing quiet reminiscences or being silent together for a while.  Quiet music will be playing. There will be a ‘chaplain’ in the church (one of the St Mary’s team) and every half hour or so they will say some short prayers of thanksgiving and comfort over the church’s speaker system. You will also be able to ask them to come to your group and pray with you more personally if you wish.
 
Outside in the churchyard we will have a cross set up, under which we hope to have a ‘cairn’ of remembering built; we invite you to bring a stone (on which you can write your loved-one’s name, or a child from your family can decorate it) to build up the cairn. This will remain in place till a few days after Remembrance Sunday, at which time we hope people may come and plant poppy crosses around it for family members who died in wartime. When it is dismantled, we shall place the stones in the church porch for families to collect during the church’s opening hours.
 
As we will be following the Covid 19 protocols, we have to ask you to book a time-slot if your family wishes to come into the church, and we shall have to ask you to check in when you arrive, and wear a face-covering while you’re in church I’m afraid. Bookings to come into the church can be made by contacting our church administrator, Anne Parry-Smith before Thursday 29th October at admin@stmaryslinton.org.uk  or by phoning 01223 894715.
 
I am most grateful to HJ Paintin and Son for extending this invitation to families whom they have helped this year, who they believe might appreciate it. They are not sharing their list of addressees with me or the church, so if you do not wish to take up this invitation, we will have been given no personal information or contact details about those we have not had the privilege of serving ourselves through a funeral.
 
With my best wishes and prayers,
 
Maggie Guite (Rector of St Mary’s, Linton)
5 October 2020