On May 8th 1945, more than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout the UK to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds.
Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander incognito among the crowds and take part in the celebrations. Nobody had heard of social distancing, and social togetherness was most definitely the order of the day. The people of the UK had been singing along with Vera Lynn for six long years, and at last they really could meet again.
Very few of us now remember that day with great clarity, as the years have taken their toll. The planned 75th anniversary celebrations have certainly been muted by our current situation, though many of us sat on our lawns and ate cake in the sunshine on Friday afternoon in an act of solidarity and celebration. And yet, it seems more appropriate than ever to commemorate a day when the things that really mattered were getting together, giving grateful thanks that the worst was almost over (the victory in Japan had yet to be secured), and appreciating the freedom that had been won at such great cost. In a moving poem by Matt Kelly
(read on The One Show by Christopher Ecclestone on Tuesday evening), tribute was paid to the ‘soldiers in blue’, the NHS, who now battle on our behalf against a different enemy, and there is no doubt that the heroism which we remembered on Friday is alive and still fighting every day in our hospitals. Add to this the army of key workers and volunteers who are keeping the country going – some of whom go out from our own Church building every Thursday as Windsor Foodshare helps feed those most in need in our community – and we can see that self-sacrifice and the desire to bring good out of chaos has come to the forefront in these days.
We have a Saviour who is the ultimate role model for this self-sacrifice.‘ He had equal status with God but didn’ t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that – a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured
him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth – even those long ago dead and buried –
will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honour ofGod the Father.’ Phil 2: 5-11 (The Message)
How wonderful to know that all our best desires to help others, and to release them from bondage, comes from our Creator God. We love because he first loved us and gave himself up for us, so that we could be freed from everything that gets between us and God. Because of the self -sacrifice of Jesus we can know victory over sin and death, and be assured of a future with him. That is worth celebrating, whatever our circumstances, as we wait to meet again.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew & Pauline