Dear Friends

I write this just one day after the curtailed national celebrations of the 75"‘ anniversary of VE Day, which commemorated the end of the Second World War in Europe. I was thinking about this as I was gazing up to the Union Jack Which I had hoisted up the flagpole on the church tower, and which looked particularly vibrant, the red, white and blue set against a lovely deep blue sky, as, for a few days, the fine weather we have been enjoying in recent weeks continued.

What also continues currently, of course, is the lockdown, which, in a different way, recalls, for those of us old enough to remember, something of the privations and restrictions of war. Being born not long after the Second World War, I remember how rationing, too, continued for a few years, as did National Service. I recall my cousins being called up for their National Service, and one of them enjoyed his first weeks as a serviceman so much that he signed up as a regular - but then instantly regretted it! Nevertheless, he used to pass down to me and my brother his worn-out tunics, since we used to play soldiers in the back garden. The shadow of the War dominated much of life in the 1950s, and even into the early 1960s - and many films of that period seemed to have a wartime theme. Certainly, at school, for many years, friends and playmates would ask, ‘What did your Dad do in the War?’ Fortunately, in our case, we were able to recount. in all honesty, our father’s exploits during many of the most challenging of the campaigns.

The house we lived in at the time suffered slightly from bomb damage as its front and rear doors had been taken out by a bomb blast. and the house opposite had taken a direct hit. We used to play in the crater that was let ~ meanwhile, ‘prefabs’ were being put together all around. They were meant to last for only ten years, but were still standing twenty years later (as the saying goes, ‘There is nothing so permanent as a temporary structure’ ! ).

It all now seems, of course, a very long time ago, but VE Day remains, quite properly, as a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing that God spared our country from obliteration. It was good to see recently footage (including some in colour) of the celebrations which took place all those years ago around the country — apart from their outfits, people looked very much the same as we do today, and behaved, no doubt, similarly to ourselves when in celebratory mode!

I have also read recently that, as well as accessing online church services, people have been praying more during the lockdown — I don’t know how the experts in statistics gather such information, but it emphasizes the point that when we human beings are under threat, we are more receptive to the spiritual and religious dimensions of our lives. This is something Her Majesty the Queen has indicated during her addresses to the nation, and we thank God for her unflagging Christian witness, and for her prayers, to which we add our own.

Stephen