Bishop's Comment: VE Day

5th May 2020

“This is your victory" the Prime Minister said to the people on 8th May 1945. The duration of the Second World War in Europe had been 5 years 8 months and 4 days.

Crowds gathered, strangers danced in the streets, food and drink were thrown together for family parties. There was ‘smiling, hugging, kissing and laughing’ Mick Brown reports from a witness in Trafalgar Square who had just been to one of 10 consecutive thanksgiving services in St Paul’s Cathedral that day to remember her two brothers who had been killed in the war. (Daily Telegraph Magazine 02.05.20. p10) Much has already been written to compare and contrast the current global pandemic with the earlier trauma of total war. One obvious similarity is that every home in the land is affected. A Crisis of this magnitude imposes the reality of illness and death, radical changes in work and schooling, heroic service by ordinary people, anxiety about basic supplies, separation from loved ones, travel restrictions, the fragility and resilience of relationships, opportunities for kindness and crime, a deepening divide between the haves and have nots and an increase in prayer.

VE Day 1945 was a moment of emotional, psychological and spiritual release from a drawn-out trauma in the middle of a long 20th Century journey. Seventy five years later we are at an intense early stage of another national effort to save lives and sustain a way of life.

Victory over COVID 19 is still far off, so how may we best build our hope and strength?

We can be aware of how human beings cope with major unexpected events.

Gabrielle Treanor gives secular insights into where we might be in our personal response to the Crisis. The first is Survival ‘I am just trying to get through today’, ‘I feel powerless and sad’. The second is Acceptance ‘I am learning to let go of what I can’t control’ , 'I’m less stressed and sleeping better’. The third is Growth ‘I’m looking ahead to how I want to live after this’, 'I’m focussing on what’s in my control’.

We can deepen our lived faith.

The Christian psychiatrists Andrew Simms and Pablo Martinez study of Jesus draws out our practice in the three key relationships for human beings: with ourselves; with others and with God. They emphasise: tell yourself the truth; be salt and light; the need for repentance. (Mad or God? Jesus the Healthiest Mind of All IVP 2018 p85).

We can praise God in all circumstances.

On the anniversary of VE Day in the midst of a new World Crisis the hymn 'Lord for the Years’ gives a practical-eternal perspective, the reality of sin, the power of the Holy Spirit and an intention to ‘live for Christ alone’. (Timothy-Dudley Smith, Michael Baughen). Sing it from your hymn book or YouTube and follow it with The UK Blessing a new Birmingham-coordinated on-line witness of Christian unity for the nation. 

As we trust the Living Lord Jesus, let us expect him to draw all people to himself with many more than 10 consecutive services of Thanksgiving when we move on from COVID 19, proclaiming ‘This is His Victory’.

Bishop David Signature

 

The Rt Revd David Urquhart
Bishop of Birmingham