Church of England Diocese of Winchester Sherfield-on-Loddon

VE weekend

9 May 2020, midnight

From Rev Stephen Ball.

This morning I would have been leading a VE commemoration service at the Sherfield on Loddon war memorial. We would have laid wreaths and the Last Post would have been played. Sadly, none of this happened due to the current necessary restrictions. I did, however, go down there this morning to take time and remember those who gave their lives for our freedom and peace. I was immediately transported, in my mind, back to Minturno in Italy to the day I visited my own grandfather’s grave. It was a deeply moving experience, not just to see his name engraved there but also the names and ages of those buried around him, then to look up at row upon row of similar grave stones. It was the scale of the thing that was stirring.

I still find it really difficult to imagine what that time must have been like and, given that, it would be so easy to let this time pass without really paying tribute. We must never forget, though, the sacrifice of anyone who has given their life for another.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you”. Later in the passage Jesus lays out his command, “Love one another”. As the years go by I am more and more convinced that the key to a happy life, the key to a successful and nurturing community and the key to a truly great nation is to follow Jesus' command and to take the focus off ourselves and focus on caring for others. If everyone took this to heart, we would all have what we need; we would all be carers and those who were cared for. Love for God and neighbour reveals God’s sacrificial love for us and completes us.

A prayer for today.

Loving and generous God, we give thanks before you today for those who have knowingly or unknowingly followed Jesus’ example and command to love in laying down their lives for others. We especially remember those who gave their lives during the Second World War and those who, on the home front, offered themselves in the service of others. Give us grace to follow their example by continually nurturing a culture of loving service that reflects your glory and love. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.