I am sure many of you found the VE Day celebrations very moving. The Red Arrows flying above Waterloo made me jump, but apart from that the memories of the shared struggle, the fight against fascism, felt so appropriate. I was especially moved by the montage of "We'll meet again" after the Queen's speech, with contributions from across our communities - key workers from all over the world, reflecting the international force which came together to defeat the enemy of all that makes us human.
And the Queen's words resonate powerfully: "But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other. And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire."
Maria Lobo, of our congregation, is one of those key workers. She has written some paragraphs about what it's like to be a doctor working in a local hospital specialising in mental health. I share them with you:
"I'm a doctor at Lambeth Hospital, a mental health unit in Clapham. Thank you for your prayers. It has been hard, we have had several covid cases. We have all been working long hours, busier days and are taking on extra shifts with fewer staff.
There is this real sense of everyone pulling together though. My friend Dr Lucia said she would sleep at the hospital if needed to do back-to-back shifts. Nurse Emily stayed on after night shifts three times the same week to help the morning team give medication. Newly qualified Eloise and Chelsea led the ward team independently. I couldn't think of more caring or dedicated colleagues and I feel so lucky to work somewhere where, after eight months, I know I will see friendly faces in the canteen and at the porters office.
St John's has been such a lifeline through difficult times. It is so wonderful to still be able to share in services with you, to have you as whatsapp friends and to know that others are praying for me at times when I find it hard to be still because I feel too distracted. I have found myself praying at the most random opportunities though- like when the ECG machine was playing up and I was getting all these wires tangled around a patient's knee (they're meant to go to the heart!)."
Thank you, Maria. Our prayers and love are with you.
Here, too, is a poem which was shared during Coffee Time last week by Andy. He was marking the day when we normally celebrate Mother Julian of Norwich - 8th May - which was supplanted by VE Day. But this poem, by Malcolm Guite, seems to speak into both VE Day and our current situation.
Show me O anchoress, your anchor-hold
Deep in the love of God, and hold me fast.
Show me again in whose hands we are held,
Speak to me from your window in the past,
Tell me again the tale of Love's compassion
For all of us who fall onto the mire,
How he is wounded with us, how his passion
Quickens the love that haunted our desire.
Show me again the wonder of at-one-ment
Of Christ-in-us distinct and yet the same,
Who makes, and loves, and keeps us in each moment,
And looks on us with pity not with blame.
Keep telling me, for all my faith may waver,
Love is his meaning, only love, forever.
I hope to see you at our worship tomorrow.
With much love, as ever, and much prayer for you all