We Will Remember Them...
Eighty years ago, in November 1941, the war was going badly, and there were few signs of hope. German Panzers were at the gates of Moscow and thousands were starving to death in Leningrad. Elsewhere the allies were suffering heavy losses, on the ground in North Africa, in the air as bombing raids into Germany took their toll on the RAF, and at sea as the Navy lost the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and 25 merchant vessels were sunk. Hundreds of Jews were killed in the Nazi programme of liquidating ghettoes.
At 11.00 on Sunday, we will pause to remember the sacrifice, the pain and the suffering of those who have given their lives in the service of their country, and the countless thousands who are victims of war.
In December 1941, two events took place which presaged a change in the course of the conflict: around Moscow, the temperature fell to -37° C, and the German offensive ground to a halt, while on December 7th the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, which brought America into the war. Things would get a lot worse before they got better, but these were indications that the struggle and endurance would ultimately not be in vain.
Few of us are old enough to remember those dark days, and I wonder how we would have coped in those circumstances. Although the past two years have been tough for us all, I suspect that the first two years of the war were harder to cope with, although people did draw strength from bonding together to fight a common enemy, and found immense courage as they did so. But one of the lessons we can learn from those who lived through those years is that, however bad it gets, giving up is not an option.
So where do we find the resources we need to carry on? It is easy to feel demoralised as the nights draw in, the number of covid cases increases, and we are perhaps inclined to feel despair over our political leaders. As Marion Richardson said in our service last Sunday, good news has been in short supply recently. So where do we find our motivation when we feel as if everything is against us? Perhaps we just need to remember that God is for us. As Paul says at the end of 1 Corinthians 3, if you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God, then everything belongs to you – whether that be the world, life, death, the present or the future – it’s all yours! If the good news of Jesus transcends the limitations of our state of mind or of our circumstances, then your future will be what you make it.