Tuesday, 12 May 2015

VE Day & Christian Aid's 70th Anniversary - All Age Service

May 8th 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, but despite being an important anniversary I found very few worship resources on line.  May 10th, the nearest Sunday to VE Day, also happened to be the start of Christian Aid Week, and 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of Christian Aid.  I decided to combine these two special events together, to put together this all age service.  The prayers for VE Day (slightly adapted) and Act of Rededication came from Westminster Abbey - the only liturgical resources I could find for this important anniversary http://www.westminster-abbey.org/press/news/2015/may/ve-day-resources-now-available-online

I hope that by posting these resources on line they may be of help for other people.

VE Day All Age Service & Christian Aid 70th Anniversary

Welcome & Introduction

A very warm welcome to St Martin’s, and this special all age service. 

This morning we are celebrating two special events, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, and the 70th anniversary of the start of Christian Aid.

As we look back on the events of 70 years ago, we want to thank God for the peace we enjoy, and to reflect on how we can continue to struggle for peace and justice in the world today.  

Opening Response

We gather together
in the name of the One who bids us come.

We gather together
to hear the words of the One who is Love.

We gather together
to sing praises of the One who teaches peace.
Come, let us worship!

Hymn    Lord for the years

On May 8th, 1945, Winston Churchill gave a speech in which he announced to the nation that after almost six long years of fighting which had seen unprecedented destruction and loss of life, the war in Europe was finally over. Let’s listen to part of this speech…



It was to be another three months before the war was finally over, with the surrender of Japan on the 15th August 1945.  But the news that the war in Europe was over was greeted with scenes of celebration as church bells rang out, and people gathered together for street parties. 

A number of people from St Martin’s, who remember VE Day in 1945, have kindly agreed to share their memories of that day:

Members of St Martin's share their memories of VE Day 

VE Day wasn’t a happy day for everyone, especially those who’d lost loved ones, or whose loved one’s were still fighting in the Far East.  

One of these people was Maurice Emerson.  Maurice’s brother Reggie, who had survived the Normandy landings was killed was killed on the 18th April in a freak accident on board the aircraft carrier HMS Glory.  He was 20 years old. 

About VE Day itself Maurice said “the family were in mourning, and did not take part in any of the celebrations or street parties taking place.  Our house was a sad and quiet place amongst all the joy and happiness. At the time, my eldest brother Walter was involved in the Far East war, so the concern over whether another of the family would meet a similar end almost sent my mother out of her mind.

Song      God is our help and refuge

Although the fighting in Europe was over, much of Europe was in ruins.  Millions of people had been killed, and many more displayed.

The churches in Britain realised that when the war eventually ended, it would take a mammoth effort to reconstruct the towns and cities that had been destroyed.  So in 1942 the British Council of Churches was established, and they started to consider what practical assistance would be required to build peace once the war was over.  The British Council of Churches set up the Christian Reconstruction in Europe committee, to help establish a vision of a world without war. This is to be the beginnings of Christian Aid.

It was on the Sunday after VE Day in 1945 that British churches raised £85,000 for Christian Reconstruction in Europe to help European churches meet the needs of their people. 

Theodor Davidovic, a former refugee was one of those refugees who was helped after the Second World War…


In 1949 Christian Reconstruction in Europe was renamed the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service.

The first Christian Aid week started in 1957, and it appealed to churchgoers to support refugees - forgotten by 'a world that has turned its back' – a problem that still affects the world.

In 1964 the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service became known as Christian Aid.

We’re now going to hear two short readings from the Bible; the first which reminds us that justice, peace and compassion are things that matter deeply to God, and the second reading that that if we claim to have faith in God, we have to demonstrate this by our actions. 

Bible Readings   
Zechariah 7:9-10           
James 2:14-17                  

If justice, mercy and compassion matter to God, as He says in Zechariah, then as God’s people it HAS to also matter to us.  Being a Christian is not just about believing in God, it is about changing the world.  We are called to be WORLD CHANGERS. 

The Second World War in Europe may have ended 70 years ago, but the war against poverty, disease, and inequality continues, and that is what Christian Aid over the last 70 years has been striving to achieve, so that we can live in a world where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty, as this short video illustrates (only the first 2 minutes and 9 seconds of this video were shown).


If we want to live in a world of peace and justice, then we must play our part, and one of the ways we can do this is by supporting organisations like Christian Aid.  Because as God’s people, we’re called to be channels of God’s peace in the world.  

Song      Make me a channel of your peace

Prayer stations there were a series of prayer stations based around the theme of peace and justice, as well as creating a large 'peace poster' the idea came from http://engageworship.org/ideas/Making_a_work_of_peace

Prayer   

Trusting the promises of God, and with faith in his mercy, let us pray to the Lord.

Let us give thanks for the selfless and courageous service and sacrifice of those who brought peace to Europe, and for the good example they have given us;
let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

We pray for nations still devastated by war, for their people and their leaders, and for those who suffer the effects or memories of past wars; for veterans, for those who mourn, and for all innocent victims whose lives have been shattered by the cruelty of others;
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Let us give thanks for those who work for peace and liberty throughout the world, especially today we thank God for the ministry and witness of Christian Aid, striving to build for a more just and peaceful world.  let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

We pray for those in our own day who have grown weary or lost hope as a result of violence or terror; for all refugees and displaced people, and for those who seek to address the causes of discord and distrust; Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Let us give thanks for the reconciliation of former enemies, for the flourishing of goodwill between them, and for the many blessings we enjoy as a result of the sacrifices which have made for peace; let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

We pray for the young people of our own day and for all who will shape the future of this nation, that they may be inspired by those who have gone before them to serve as they have been served; Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

For the reconciliation of former enemies and for the flourishing of goodwill between them, and for the many freedoms and benefits we enjoy as a result of the sacrifices which have made for peace; let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Act of Rededication led by an older member of the congregation (or veteran if there is one) and a young person

They fought for peace, that the world might never again know such violence and destruction.
Will you work for peace and reconciliation in your homes and communities, and promote peace throughout the world?

With the help of God, we will.

They fought for justice, that the scourge of prejudice and oppression might never again take root in our societies.
Will you work for a world in which hatred and injustice never have the final word, and where all people can flourish with dignity and hope?

With the help of God, we will.

They struggled so that the whole human family might know good will, security, and freedom.
Young person    Will you always acknowledge how precious are the gifts which God has entrusted to us, and exercise the freedoms and responsibilities you have with gratitude and humility?

With the help of God, we will.

May almighty God, who has given us the will to undertake these things, bless us with the strength to perform them. Amen.

Song      We’ll walk the land…

Blessing

Now, go forth from this place with renewed inspiration to do the work of God.
Seek good, not evil, love goodness, and establish justice.
This the greatest offering we can make;
letting justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.