I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ on this special day of VE remembrance.
Setting aside days of remembrance, such as today, is very necessary in the identity of a nation. The prophets were constantly exhorting the Israelites to remember who they were, to remember their special identity as God’s chosen people: in Isaiah we read ‘remember the former things of old; for I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me.’ Isaiah 46:9.
Jewish people today, like the Israelites of old, keep many of the same festivals of remembrance. At the Seder meal, it is the youngest child who asks four questions about the Passover. They are intended to spur the interest not only of the child who asks the questions but also of all children present both in the activities of the seder and in the history and significance of Passover. The story will live on.
Today is the 75th anniversary of victory in Europe. It has great significance, not just because it acknowledges the end of a terrible war, but also because those who were there, who can give eyewitness accounts, are becoming fewer with each passing year. Eyewitnessess take us back into that time like no others can, because their experience of having a street party on that day, or dancing in the streets of London that night with the lights shining, was formational in how it has shaped their outlook on life. Eyewitnessess shape our history and influence our futures.
The four Gospels are precious to us, because they are full of eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ time here on earth. Collectively, they may not give us the words of Jesus verbatum, but through them we hear the voice of Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit as our guide, we can get to know him, and to love him.
He has made us heirs of the Father, joint heirs with the Son because of what he did for our salvation. And we take Holy Communion to remind us of this. The words we use in the Eucharist prayers prompt us: ‘take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me,’ and ‘drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ The Gospel story lives on.
Remembering special events together unites us, so that what happened in the past can become a reality for us now and in the future. When you join in the celebrations today, give thanks for those who made sacrifices and had an enormous party as they looked to a future filled with hope. The story will live on.
God bless you.