So – VE Day. I can remember my parents occasionally mentioning in the post-war years what was evidently a huge day for them. They’d both served in the Army, but as a boy I hadn’t a clue what ‘VE’ meant. Eventually, the facts emerged. VE was Victory in Europe, the Far East war still continuing. And it wasn’t just a British victory, but one shared with our overwhelmingly more powerful allies, the Americans and Russians. And it was above all about relief: relief that there might be ahead an end to wartime conditions, to the dangers and limitations that wartime created for everybody.
Today we recall that sense of relief, that brief pausing for breath before the final effort in the East, and before the long, tough struggles of a depleted nation through the years of post-war, belt-tightening austerity. We celebrate the war generation, whose values of self-giving and companionship did so much to shape the post-war vision of a more equal and just society. A society where secondary education would be free to all; where healthcare would similarly be provided freely for the whole community in response to need. A society where there would be public commitment to the welfare of all. These deeply Christian social ideals shaped who we are. They are worth celebrating. And even if we can’t have church services in celebration, we can decorate the church porch; grateful thanks again to our flower people!