The Christian Episcopal Church is active in the Cayman Islands, Canada and the United States, and sometimes in our differing “necks of the wood” we display differences in the ways we observe or honour the same event. This occurs for Remembrance Day (as we refer to it here in Cayman). Being a British Territory, here we observe Remembrance Sunday as the second Sunday in November, the day in which there is also a public service of remembrance in London, and the day following it in Cayman is called Remembrance Day and is a public holiday, which I suspect it once was in the United Kingdom. I believe things are somewhat differently timed in North America, because it appears that Remembrance Sunday was observed this year there on the first Sunday of November, and I think Memorial Day is always observed on the 11th November, today as I write**. This perhaps illustrates the difference between a “history”, which is always recounted in the context of the mind of the one who recounts it, and therefore with some legitimate variability, and the actual event as it would be experienced by those who lived through the event itself. In this case, the Cayman Islands, Canada and the United States are all making memorial of the ending of the 1st World War but are viewing this event through the contexts of their subsequent experiences. I invite my colleagues in the U.S. and Canada to correct me if I have got anything awry.
It may be useful to apply this thought to the manner in which Christians of different stripes have memorialised the “one, true, pure, immortal Sacrifice" of Christ for us. The event itself is unchangeable, but the manner of its memorialisation over the centuries has become multitudinous. No doubt, some styles of memorialisation are better than others, perhaps even better by far, and it matters that we memorialise this central reality as best we can know or learn how. This, though, is different from “dissing” other concepts of memorialisation out of hand, even when we may see them to be wide of the mark. Much discernment is required. We may also consider how the current circumstances have compelled us to adjust even temporarily our own ways in this regard.
The Collect for the 24th Sunday after Trinity, which this year is also (in the United Kingdom and Cayman) Remembrance Sunday, is
O Lord, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.
As no doubt we have seen, the Collect of the day (and usually of the week) unites the themes of the Offices (Morning and Evening Prayer) to a significant Prayer Book theme for the Sunday Eucharist. In the classical Anglican Way Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are Daily Offices (not just for Sundays) and are in some sense a continuation of the old daily monastic prayer schedule brought outside the bounds of the cloisters. Our service schedules may not be so rich as this but we shall continue to do the best we can and hope to do better in the future.
Although some Prayer Book traditions confine the public recitation of this particular Collect to Presbyters, it seems to me that it is not a declaration of absolution, but rather a prayer for absolution to be granted, and therefore is a prayer entirely suitable for a leader who is not (yet) priested to provide publicly. There is the admission that “we have committed” various sins and that the way we may be delivered from “the bands of those sins” is to be absolved by the Lord Himself: and it is “for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour” that we ask for this great boon to be granted.
Mr. Peter will again kindly order the service of Morning Prayer on Sunday, which will be in the customary place and time unless he instructs otherwise.
In faith in the holy Name of our Lord Jesus, who will continue to provide guidance to us all.
**"The US (confusing as it may be) celebrates Memorial Day recognizing all veterans the last Monday in May and Veteran’s Day on November 11. Thank you for keeping us apprised of how it is celebrated in Cayman and UK". - Many thanks to Pamela Williams for this amendment.