Monday, 18 December 2017

Time to remember and pray for peace

A MAN died and went to Heaven. When he got to the pearly gates, Saint Peter told him that new

A MAN died and went to Heaven. When he got to the pearly gates, Saint Peter told him that new rules were in effect. In order to gain admittance, a prospective heavenly soul must answer two questions:

1. Name two days of the week that begin with “T”

2. Tell me how many seconds there are in a year.

The man thought for a few moments and answered...

1. Today and Tomorrow.

2. Twelve.

Saint Peter said: “Okay, I’ll accept the first answer, even though it’s not what I expected, but how did you get 12 seconds in a year?”

The man replied: “Well. January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd, etc...”

Without another word, Saint Peter let him in.

I don’t really know why grave humour raises a smile. Maybe it’s one of our defence mechanisms when we are confronted with things so painful that we struggle to cope: the death of someone is perhaps the hardest thing anyone ever faces.

November in the Church calendar is a time for reflection and a time for remembrance. On Sunday the Churches of Henley will hold an annual United service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance — thinking especially of all loved ones who have died over the last year and seeking to help those who are living with grief. Many other churches will celebrate All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day in the same way.

A week later, on November 10 we mark Remembrance Sunday with services incorporating Remembrance. People will no doubt wear a poppy as an expression of their support. Thousands of poppies grew in the soil churned up by fighting on the battlefields of the First World War and this humble flower has become a symbol of remembrance. We think of the sacrifices made by so many and the red petal of the poppy reminds us of bloodshed, of lives lost, of human greed and countless lives marked forever by pain and fear.

Through our televisions and newspapers, we are made aware of the conflicts that are going on in the world today, so this is a time when it is important to show solidarity, to stop and reflect, to think of those whose names are on our war memorials, and the price they paid on our behalf, to pray for those hurt through violence and warfare, and to pray for for peace.

Now back to my interest in grave humour. After dying in a car crash, three friends go to Heaven for orientation. They are all asked: “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning your death, what would you like to hear them say about you?”

One man immediately responds: “I would like to hear them say that I was one of the great doctors of my time and a great family man.”

The second man says: “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher who made a huge difference to the children of tomorrow.”

The last chap thinks for a moment and says: “I guess I’d like to hear them say, ‘Look, he’s still moving!’”

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