Thoughts on 2016 Commemerations

9 February 2016

o comment on our remembering in 2016 of historical events from a century ago, I issued this statement.

This year we will celebrate the centenary of two iconic and historical events which shaped the two parts of this island - the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme.

In the past they divided our two communities but in recent years families in the Irish Republic who had relatives who served in the British Army during the
Battle of the Somme, now feel free to speak of these men and their exploits.
Perhaps this aspiration is expressed well by our Nobel Laureate, Seam Heaney when he spoke of "hope and history rhyming"

In the past each community lived out of their own historical narrative but perhaps a bridge was built between both nations when Queen Elizabeth II visited the Irish Republic and said "being able to bow to the past but not bound by it" and a matching remark by the then Irish President Mary McAleese "while we cannot change the past we have chosen to change the present" The warmth of exchange and the mutual hopeful future would be a good one for us all to follow.

We are now an island that has been enriched by those who have come to live and work among us and so in keeping with one of the planks of the Easter Proclamation i.e. to cherish all children equally we should be a welcoming hospitable, generous and tolerant people and part of building this hope we spoke of is about restoring broken relationships and viewing the future inclusively.

I spoke of the two separate narratives out of which the peoples on this Island have lived out of along with the former Presbyterian Moderator, the Rev.Dr.Trevor Morrow there is a bridge narrative which can join both of these which the church can help to shape. This is a story of justice for all and a land that respects all.

The season of Lent has begun and it is my prayer that as we journey through this 40 day period of inward and spiritual reflection that we look at commemorating our past that shapes the future. Let us be optimistic about the future we can, under God, build. To again quote from Seamus Heaney
"so hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge. Believe that further shore is reasonable from here. Believe in miracle and cures and
healing wells"

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