- Isaiah 26:1-6
- John 14:25-27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
After almost six long years of war at along last it was over. Five years eight months of waiting for that dreaded orange covered telegram delivered by a messenger boy that reported a casualty or a missing man. Six years of bombings, not knowing if your home was still standing after an air raid when you came out of the shelter, six years of and more of rationing and digging for victory, now it was over.
Peace came at a price
Shortly before midnight on the 7th May 1945 an American soldier, Domenic Mozzette was on patrol just outside Klenovice in Czechoslovakia when he was fired at by a German sniper. The shot missed him, but the rifle’s muzzle flash lit up the tree where the sniper was hiding. Mozzette immediately returned fire and his bullets found their target. Minutes later just after midnight peace in Europe became official. At 0130hrs on the 7th May 1945 Admiral Karl Donitz authorised Germany’s Unconditional Surrender (he had taken over after Hitler’s death) bringing the Second World War to an end. The Channel Island surrendered on the 9th May at 0714hrs on HMS Bulldog in St Peters Port.
What did the war cost? It is estimated for there are no precise figures, USA war dead 290,000, Canada 45,000, Holland 6000 soldiers & 1.4 million civilians, Poland 123,000 soldiers & 4 million civilians, France 250,000 soldiers & 350,000 civilians, the United Kingdom 350,000 of which 50,000 were civilians. It cost Italy 400,000 soldiers & 100,000 civilians as for Germany 4.5 million soldiers and 2 million civilians.
The Germans signed Unconditional Surrender starting with Field Marshal Montgomery on Luneburg Heath who asked the question when the German delegation arrived, ‘Who are these men? What do they want?’ and ending on the 7th May 1945 when Generalfieldmarchall Keitel signed at the Russian HQ. Disdain, contempt, arrogance these words have been used by historians to describe Keitel’s attitude at the signing ceremony. Afterwards on the 8th June 1945 our streets in villages, towns and cities were filled with people and many, many street parties were held to celebrate the end of the war. But not everyone was cheering, war widows like Iris Pilons was crying her eyes out. She could do nothing else as her husband was gone never to return, her grief was shared by so many.
All Service Personnel who hear the call to go to war turn their backs on all that they hold dear, their families, friends and the way of life to obey the call.
When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him, they too turned their back on all that they held dear. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:19-20. Christ himself turned His back on all that He held dear and obeyed His Father’s command sending Him to earth knowing that it was going to cost the Saviours’ own life on a cross. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 24:46
The two words that come out of the horrors and cost of war are LOVE & PEACE. Love for our country, love for our people our way of life. It was out love that made King George 6th call this nation to prayer at least five times. In 1st Corinthians 13:13 we read, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Have you experienced the Peace that only Jesus can give bought by shedding his own Blood on the cross? Both these are life changing, direction changing. But like Germany you have to surrender to achieve it and we have to accept it. The hymn writer puts it this way, ‘ When Peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hath taught me to know it is well, it is well with my soul.’