The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
For I see no reason
Why gunpowder and treason
Should ever be forgot.”
This old rhyme is maybe forgotten now, but its subject is the reason behind this week’s fireworks and bonfires.
An effigy called Guy used to be on the bonfires. This was because Guy Fawkes and 12 others had such a grudge against the new King James and his policies that they plotted to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament.
But news leaked out. On 5th November 1605 he was caught guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the House, enough to create a huge, fatal, devastating explosion. You can guess what happened to him and his friends!
But you might not guess that an Act of Parliament then enforced the annual commemoration of this event throughout the land! That Act was repealed only in 1859.
Now it’s just Bonfire night, and somehow Halloween has got mixed into it too. So if you’re out there tonight - just remember to take care and stay safe and enjoy the fun.
Next week, however, will bring another and more serious remembrance date. The Great War, World War I, ended officially on 11th communities across the land still remember it annually and willingly. No need for an Act of Parliament. No bonfires and no fun. Just quiet reflection and thankfulness, for surely hard won peace is so much better than cruel war.
The sacrifice of so many young lives from all walks of life in so many countries has already been highlighted this year, the centenary of the start of that war. We must not allow ourselves to forget them, and others since, as Lawrence Binyon’s evocative poem puts it:
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them ...”
It’s easy to forget. We all forget things, maybe more as we get older. But the effort of remembering and reflecting is worth it. Is that why this column is called Reflections?
Many of us like to remember and reflect upon someone from longer ago than last century.
He lived in the first century. In fact every century since then has been marked by His name, AD “the year of our Lord”. Before that it was BC “Before Christ”.
Jesus Christ cannot be forgotten. His birth was unique. His life was perfect, His teachings unparalleled in worth and value. His death on a lonely cross was for us and for our sins.
And most amazingly and significantly, He rose again from the dead. Otherwise there would be no Christianity, nothing much to remember, nothing to trust in for today or tomorrow.