Reflection for VE day Moscow 2020
75 years ago, at 3pm UK time (5pm Moscow time), in a coordinated approach with the allies, Winston Churchill announced to the people of the UK that the war in Europe had ended.
In fact, the final German surrender was not until midnight May 8th, central European time, which meant that for Russia it took place just after 1am on May 9th. That is why VE day is celebrated here on May 9th and not, with most of Europe, on May 8th.
Peace had come. 6 years of war in Europe was over.
There was an explosion of joy.
But at what an astonishing cost.
I don’t know the figures for Europe alone, but globally it is estimated that about 70-85 million lives were lost. In the Soviet Union alone, that figure is estimated at 27 million. In Russia, 1 in 8 people died, and in Byelorus it is estimated it was 1 in 4. And those are not just statistics. Each individual death is a devastation – leaving behind the wreck of broken lives and crushed dreams.
Was it worth it?
Well, what is the price of freedom?
And the cost in lives of an allied defeat to a fascism dedicated to racial cleansing by genocide, and the subjugation of so-called inferior peoples, is simply unimaginable.
If there was ever a just war, a war that needed fighting, it was the war against Nazism.
And it is right for us today and tomorrow to remember and honour those who served, those who suffered and continue to suffer even to today, and especially those who gave their lives.
Peace comes but, because we live in a fallen, sinful world – for there to be peace there will always need to be sacrifice.
We mark this VE anniversary as we face another global threat.
Of course, what they endured in WWII and what we endure now is beyond comparison.
But today there are still those on the front line who are making the sacrifices, who are putting their lives in danger so that others can live. I read in official news sources on Thursday of the deaths of 4 medics in St Petersburg, and of the chief doctor in the Sergiev Lavra Monastery, Igumen Tikhon. And we honour them and countless others across this globe.
Our two readings speak of peace.
The first (Luke 2:8-14 and used at the thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey on the 8 May 1945) speaks of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour, who came to bring peace.
He won that peace for us by sacrifice: he gave his life, choosing to literally go into hell, in love for us.
The second (Philippians 4:4-8) speaks of the peace which, because of him, we can experience here and now: from knowing that our sins are forgiven, that death is defeated and that God is near us.
I pray that you come to know that peace.
And we pray that one day that Kingdom, promised to the shepherds, won for us by sacrifice, will finally come.
There will be one ruler, Jesus Christ, who loves us, died for us and rose again, and all will delight to follow him
There will be freedom
There will be abundance for all and joy, and no more suffering and no more death
And there will be peace