A short devotion for 19th July

Call to worship

We are here to remember, in the presence of God, the victory granted in the Battle of Britain, and to give thanks for the freedom which was then preserved for us. Now with the passing of the years, we are to pray that our liberties may be maintained and more widely shared; that people may be released from tyrannies of mind and body which still enslave them: that the power and skill of the Royal Air Force may be used to safeguard justice and peace in the world: and that we ourselves lose not the vision of God’s Kingdom and righteousness.

Let us pray

Mighty God we come to you in humble adoration. You take us, such very imperfect people, and give us the chance to prove that when we place ourselves in your care we can be the people you want us to be. We bless you, Lord. We praise and adore you. Amen

Prayer of Confession

Almighty God, long suffering and of great goodness: we confess to Thee, with our whole heart, our neglect and forgetfulness of your commandments: our wrong doing, speaking, and thinking: the hurt we have done to others: and the good we have left undone: O God forgive we your people who have sinned against you and raise us to newness of life. Amen

Bible Reading

  • Isaiah 40:28-31
  • Psalm 91

Message: The Battle of Britain

Text

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:9-10

Introduction

There is a story of a conversation between a little bird and an eagle. The little bird said that he could fly higher than the eagle of which the latter disputed. So the day came when they flew to see which of the two could fly the highest, so matter how high up into the sky the eagle flew the little bird would say I am higher up than you. At last the eagle give in, totally exhausted he admitted defeat and when they landed the little bird was not even out of breath. How the eagle enquired? The little bird confessed, because I was sitting on top of your head.

Eighty years ago for 113 days from the 10th July – 31st October 1940 the Battle of Britain raged in our skies costing the lives 544 pilots and crew, the number of German aircrew killed approx 2,500.

The Germans had a total of 2,669 war planes, including 1,015 bombers, 346 dive bombers 966 Messerschmitt Me109 fighters and 375 Me 110 twin-engined long range fighters, whereas the RAF had less than 700 fighters of which 600 were Hurricanes and Spitfires but at the beginning of June there had only been 36 Hurricanes and Spitfires in reserve. Field Goering had innumerable airfields in France and Belgium, while Air-Chief- Marshal Dowding’s force had to cover the whole of England.

When you consider that most of the pilots were in their late teens and early twenties, those under twenty one years of age could not vote in a General Election, were being called upon to put their young lives on the line for King and country. If they failed we would have been invaded with little hope to defend ourselves.

Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson of 249 Squadron was the only Fighter Command pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross for a battle at 18,000 feet over Southampton on the 16th July with a Me 110. A lot has been said on TV about the big part a thirteen year old school girl had played in winning the Battle of Britain. Her name was Hazel Hill and she was the daughter of Captain Fred Hill. She helped her father complete the calculations he had to make back in 1934 which was that it took eight guns on a Spitfire rather than four to do the job in the air to bring down the enemy. Hazel went on to join the medical corps during the war and thus saved many lives.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the nation on the 20th August 1940, “The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire and, indeed though out the world, except in the abode of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unweary in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by prowess and their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

In our reading the prophet Isaiah gives us a great assurance and comfort in our daily struggles with the world. The creator of the world, even more than that, the creator of the universe is our help. When Satan attacks our GOD is there to fight for us. When life’s battle rage around us and there seems to be no hope we are assured, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is.40:31. There it is again in Psalm 91:4-5, “He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” What great comfort we have in these words.

But note it is only for those whose hope is in the Lord, who acknowledges his wonderful name. As the Battle of Britain was being fought in the air men and women were fighting a battle on their knees in prayer and the Lord answered their cry, why? We have the answer, “Because he loves me,” says the lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.” Psalm 91:14-15.

There is a story of a young trainee pilot who was learning to fly and as he twisted and turned his aircraft he lost control. As the plane hurled towards the ground in the midst of his panic he handed the controls over to his instructor who brought the machine out of the dive and calmly soared up into the heavens once again. It is the same for us today, when our lives are out of control, when we are lost in sin, we need to hand our lives over to the Lord Jesus to our Creator God and He will hear our cry for mercy, for help and deliver us, call on Him to day. O I love those two words, I WILL in Psalm 91 quoted above. Reach out to Him today.

Prayers of Intercession

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who makes the clouds your chariots and walk on the wings of the wind: we ask you to govern the officers and men and women of the Royal air Force in all their operations and flights in the service of their country and to guide and guard them both in the paths of the air and in the ways of your righteousness; we pray for our country, for your servant Elizabeth our Queen and all the Royal Family. Guide and sustain those who rule and defend us and establish our nation in righteousness. Remember in your mercy, Lord, the sick, the suffering, the aged and the dying, all who are in trouble and bereavement, especially those known to us, whom we name in our hearts before you. Visit them with your love and grant them your peace. Amen

Blessing

May the blessing of the God of peace and justice be with us; may the blessing of the Son who weeps the tears of the world’s suffering be with us; and may the blessing of the Spirit who inspires us to reconciliation and hope be with us; from now into eternity. Amen