Just in time, the news came through; we would be allowed into churches to ring the bells for VE day. Only one person of course, so no opportunity for chime ringing, but as we only have two bells in Billingsley church, that was enough. So at 2.55pm I was in our church and rang our bells, one hand on each rope. If anyone heard them, you will have learnt that I am not very good at bell ringing, but for five minutes they did a passable impression of going “ding dong”, as I imagine they would have done 75 years ago. Of course our bells have a history that goes back much further than that; one is medieval and has been rung for around 600 years, in peels to celebrate great and small events, tolled to mark sad events or simply chimed, to tell of a service, whether attended by a crowd or a single person. Chiming out to proclaim that in all these, God is present.
The VE day celebrations were not as anyone imagined a few weeks ago, but celebrations did take place. As I went about my work on Friday, I saw bunting and flags and indeed the odd tea party, with all chairs 2m apart! We need to come together from time to time, to celebrate, but also give thanks and reflect. For some, 75 years ago, VE day had a bitter-sweet flavour. There was still war in the east. Lives had already been changed and there was a need to look to the future as well as celebrating the moment. Much of that is true today. Perhaps there is a lesson here from the bells, who tell that in all events, God is with us.
And finally, a prayer for VE day, adapted from the Church of England website:
Lord God our Father, we give thanks for those who brought victory 75 years ago and for all those today who serve in our armed forces to protect the peace they earned. We pledge ourselves to serve you and all humankind, in the cause of peace, for the relief of want and suffering, and for the praise of your name. Guide us by your Spirit; give us wisdom; give us courage; give us hope; and keep us faithful now and always. Amen