Letter from our vicar – June 2024

Dear Friends,

Anniversaries are a strange thing. Many countries, like those in Latin America, celebrate the Anniversary of their nation achieving independence. Our link churches in Salta, being part of Argentina, have the 9th July Independence Day as a bank holiday, with events to remember the gaining of independence from the Spanish Empire in 1816.

Britain is in the fortunate position of not being successfully invaded since 1066, so we do not have a day to celebrate independence. Or do we?

November 5th is the anniversary of an audacious attempt to overthrow the English Government. We celebrate it because our nation came within a whisker of the destruction of Sovereign and Parliament, and the re-establishment of interfering hegemony from Rome, yet we were mercifully delivered. There was a similar moment in 1588 when the Spanish invasion was thwarted, as it’s most powerful Armada of invading ships was repulsed.

The moment within some of our lifetimes which evokes similar memory is the Battle of Britain in 1940. That heroic defensive effort was spread over several months, so it is hard to agree an anniversary date. One World War II date we have learnt to celebrate is June 6th 1944. That is the date on which the Allied forces landed on French shores and started the costly campaign to enable the continent of Western Europe to shake off National Socialist oppression and Revolutionary Communist takeover, and to work with the USA to oversee a more peaceful international order for the following generation.

Remembrance Day on the 11th November is our main national day of commemoration. But it is the 6th June that has so often grabbed our imaginations and so our admiration. 6th June has become an important day in itself to mark our nation’s deliverance from the horrors of German National Socialism.

In the last two Summers, I have taken a few days to do short cycling tours in Normandy, in an informal friendship group, including a retired army major and a retired international diplomat. We have ridden to the D-Day beaches, many large cemeteries, the paratrooper landing grounds, and some quite excellent museums, some of them large and new. There seems to be a growing public interest in the events around D-Day. This is the instinct of many people today, who do not want to forget the bravery and sacrifice of the impressive invading forces. We need to remember what a noble war effort looks like, because our younger generations may need to be ready to fight again sometime.

This year, it is 80 years since D-Day. St Luke’s is glad to join with Holmes Chapel Parish Council and Holmes Chapel Churches Together to provide a suitable 80th anniversary.

On the evening of 6th June, a heritage military vehicle will park near the centre of the village, at 6.30pm the church bells will ring out for Peace, at 8.15pm a joint service will happen in St Luke’s (including footage of the original D-Day landings), at 9.15pm the tributes will be read out and the Beacon will be lit in the churchyard.

It is good to remember our nation’s deliverance. It is good to remember together. It is good to remember the international cooperation which achieved human history’s largest ever successful seaborne invasion. It is good to give thanks to God and to pray to the Lord for peacemakers and the de-escalation of conflicts in our time.

Come and join us.

Yours in Christ,