Remember, remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
The opening of this poem is one that we all remember from childhood, and it could be said that the first 2 words sum up the month of November, (Remember, remember). In the Christian calendar, it starts on the 1st of November (mainly for Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans) All Saints Day is a universal Christian Feast that honours and remembers all Christian saints, known and unknown.
On the 2nd of November it is All Souls Day, the commemoration of all the faithful departed, (again mainly for Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans).
Then of course there is bonfire night on the 5th of November, not a Christian festival but came about by the struggle between Catholics and Protestants. In 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth, and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.
To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder - and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords. But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who even fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts.
One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th. The warning letter reached the King, and the King's forces made plans to stop the conspirators. Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of parliament with the gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed, on the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.
Then we have Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday when we as a nation remember the Guns falling silent on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes past the 11th hour to mark the end of the First World War, and all the wars after that right up to the present day. Whatever we think of wars sometimes it seems to be necessary to keep our freedoms. Whilst we are remembering all this we also remember (as we do every Sunday and every day) the price Christ paid for us on the cross. Keep remembering in the peace of God.
Yours in Christ,
Rev'd Robert Sheard
United Reformed Church Minister of Stowmarket, Debenham, Stowupland, Mendlesham & Haughley