I confess to some misgivings concerning the commemoration of World War 1. To remember in order to go the extra mile in not repeating the tragedy of war is one thing but to pretend that there is anything glorious in the horror and destruction of human life is to cloud our mind to reality. It was while I was sitting in a park in the urban village of Oak Park on the western edge of Chicago that my mind turned to hopes and dreams. Memorials to the dead of World War 1 are not so common place in that part of the world but the Stars and Stripes blew proudly above the reminder of the part that Americans paid in the ‘war to end all wars’.
What hopes and dreams died in the trenches of the Somme? What are the hopes and dreams that we share across the one hundred years since that fateful day in August 1914 when it all began? What are the hopes and dreams that bind us together as members of the United Reformed Church?
Too often we plan our strategies and makes our choices based upon fear and anxiety. The loss of income or fewer people joining us in church, the loss of power and influence or the fear that comes from being a minority. What differences might occur if we shared our dreams and helped each other fulfil our hopes? Over the next two years I intend to share through this space some of the signs of God at work in our churches. As I sat in the sunshine I couldn’t help reflect that the signs of God’s presence were in the feeding of the hungry and the welcome of the stranger, or the touch of a loved one, or the laughter of friends or a glass of red wine rather than a memorial to our collective failure to settle our differences without resort to violence.