Dear Friends,

Now that the significant anniversaries of the end of the First World War and of D-Day in the Second World War have passed, I've noticed that several Cold War dramas and documentaries have been screened recently on television. This, together with the Korean War and the Suez crisis, I remember very well, and most of my childhood seemed to have been lived under the 'shadow of the Bomb'.

My mother who, it has to be said, was a worrier, was under the impression that my father would be called up again as he had been in 1939, serving throughout that war in some of the most challenging of the campaigns and battles. My mother was anxious, too, that, once we were older, both my brother and I would also be called up. As with most Cold War scares, nothing came of these concerns. However, other anxieties about fall-out from nuclear missiles and preparations for that were real enough, and there was much discussion as to whether we lived sufficiently far away from central London, the presumed target for Russian attacks. I remember once seeing a chap on the London underground openly reading a Russian grammar book and thinking to myself that he was taking a risk - it was the age of 'Reds under the bed'!

Similarly, the Cuban missile crisis, which was a very dangerous moment during the Cold War in the 1960s, nevertheless marked the beginning of a cooling-off (if that is the right term to use in this context!) of tension - although East / West relations continued to be strained until the 1980s. By then, a gradual relaxation of mutual suspicion was observable, especially through the production of films such as From Russia with Love and Dr Strangelove, which seemed to give us permission to laugh about this topic - humour very often defuses a situation, as we know, and I have often found that this helps on occasion during meetings!

The question remains, however, whether, having experienced these and similar crises and events, we have learned anything, or grown in understanding or maturity? Certainly, one of the blessings of older age is that we are enabled to 'take the long view' and see such issues in perspective - and, above all, against the horizon of God's unending faithfulness and mercy. There are many times when the dire predictions of the more strident media voices have been proved wrong - for instance, the Royal Family, which was the subject of much scathing attack and criticism during the 1960s and subsequently, is currently more popular than ever, thanks, in large part, to the unswerving dedication and Christian witness, in good times and bad, of Her Majesty the Queen, now so ably supported by the younger members of her family. Who knows, perhaps the Church, too, of which she is Supreme Governor, will one day regain its place at the heart of our nation?

In the meantime, may God continue to bless this parish and all who live and work here.

Stephen