Pondering the Cost of Peace

for Anniversary of D-Day, June 6

by Christine Sine

by Carol Dixon

With the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy coming up I have been thinking about the cost of peace and how those of us who pray for peace can still be proud of those who serve in war, past and present. So when I was asked to put together a service to reflect on this, I thought of all those who have served their country in defending their right to live in freedom and peace down the ages.  The opening music is the words of St Ignatius of Loyala, the Basque soldier who became a saint and one of the best versions I know is the song by my friend (and fellow godspacelight.com writer) Revd Sheila Hamil.

St Ignatius’ prayer: Teach me to serve   https://youtu.be/trgICOmRnyU?feature=shared

St Ignatius, soldier, sinner,

One of the earliest prayers written down in old English is attributed to King Alfred the Great who ruled the southern part of Britain from 849-899.  After ascending the throne, Alfred spent several years fighting Viking invasions. He won a decisive victory in the Battle of Edington in 878 and made an agreement with the Vikings, dividing England between Anglo-Saxon territory and the Viking-ruled Danelaw, composed of Scandinavian York, the north-east Midlands and East Anglia. Alfred also oversaw the conversion of Viking leader Guthrum to Christianity. He defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, becoming the dominant Anglo-Saxon ruler in England. The following prayers are said to have been those he prayed before his decisive battle against the Vikings. 

Lord God Almighty, shaper and ruler of all creatures,
we pray for your great mercy,
that you guide us towards you,
and guide us to your will, to the need of our soul.
Steadfast our minds towards you, strengthen us
against the temptations of the devil
and put far from us every unrighteousness.

Shield us against our foes, seen and unseen.
Strengthen us in battle and give us the grace
to show mercy to our enemies; may we always
stand up for righteousness in your name
and follow in the ways of goodness and truth.
Teach us to do Your will, that we may love you
before all things, with a pure mind,
for you are our maker and our redeemer,
our help, our comfort, our trust, our hope.
O God, the Father of your dear Son
who awakened us and exhorts us
to we become Yours alone, to you we pray,
who are the supreme truth, for all is from you.
O Lord, who are the highest wisdom,
you are the supreme joy,
and from you all have become happy.
You are the highest good,
and from you all beauty springs.
You are the light, and from you
Mankind derives his understanding.
To you, O God, we call and speak. Hear us, O Lord,
for You are our God and our Lord,
our father and our creator,
our ruler and our hope, our wealth and our honour,
our home, our country, our salvation, and our life;

Few of Your servants comprehend you,
but at least we love you and love you
above all other things.
We seek you, we follow you,
we are ready to serve you.
Under your power we desire to abide,
for you are the Sovereign of all.
Praise and glory be to you now,
ever and ever, world without end.
We pray through Jesus Christ
your Son, our Lord. Amen

King Alfred the Great

Bishop Asher, who wrote a biography of Alfred in the 9th Century was very proud of all that Alfred had achieved in uniting the south and west of England as a Christian state and keeping a large part of the country free from their enemies. So is it OK I wonder to be proud of our own and others’ achievements?  

One of the people in the New Testament who had plenty to be proud of was St Paul. In fact all the things he was proud to have endured read like a roll of honour. As he said of himself (2 Cor 11:24-28) Five times I received thirty nine at the hands of the Jews. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea. 26 On frequent journeys, I was in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false friends; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food] in cold and exposure; yet through it all God sustained me. 

Paul was particularly proud of his ministry to the Corinthians – he was the first apostle to visit them with the good news of Jesus but after he left to continue his ministry elsewhere others arrived boasting about everything they had done and giving Paul none of the credit so Paul wrote to the Corinthians to set the record straight.  Yet as Paul rightly said although he was proud of what he had done, it was God who really should have the credit and if God was gloried then he was happy, This is how he describes it: 

Reading: 2 Corinthians 10:13-18 Boasting in Christ (New Living translation (New Living translation) 

13 We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. 14 We are rightly proud of the work God has given us among you and are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim permission to lead you. It is not as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ.

15 Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. 16 We will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. 17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 18 When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.

Hymn 428 I’m not ashamed to own my Lord  https://youtu.be/rmhi2_10Dko?si=e9vkxtDMB8o35P2r

 Although St Paul is against unnecessary boasting he made it clear that it’s fine to be rightly proud of our and others’ achievements. I’m proud to be Northumbrian, I’m proud of my grandchildren, I’m proud that I wrote a book.  Sometimes we’re proud of things that have nothing to do with us – for example if our team wins the cup.  We’re not often encouraged to say we are proud of our abilities yet it’s good sometimes to be pleased with things we and other people have done and not wallow in false modesty.  Of course we shouldn’t boast about it all the time or lord it over others (as Paul’s opponents did). So what are you proud of I wonder?  You might like to think about some of your abilities or achievements and thank God for all the gifts he has given you…….. 

One of the people I’m very proud of is my dad.  He was a quiet ordinary Scotsman who loved and cared for his wife and family, often taking on extra work to make ends meet. He was content with what he had and happy in his own skin as they say. Yet in his youth, like many of his generation he was called to take on the difficult task, along with his fellow Gordon Highlanders, of liberating France, Belgium, Holland and Germany from the oppressive rule of Hitler in WW2 and bring peace to war-torn countries.  Tomorrow is D Day when we’ll be thinking of the Normandy landings (Dad landed at Arromanches on D-Day plus 6).   He was the last person to want to be thanked for his service – in fact he was very embarrassed when an elderly Dutch lady visiting our house for tea many years ago rushed to shake his hand and thanked him profusely, telling him that he and his fellow soldiers were heroes for liberating their village from such an oppressive regime.

I don’t often commemorate war in my services.  I’d much rather celebrate peace.  But today I decided to use the prayers of intercession from the service for 80th anniversary  this year of the D- Day landings. These prayers will be used in churches in this country and across the world and at the battlefield services in France. I want to use them today as a thank you to all the ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things so that we could live in freedom. I’m proud of them all.

To lead us into our prayers we’re going to hear a song by Aled Jones and Russell Watson (accompanied by an amazing photo of sand sculptures published in the Independent.)

Prayers for the anniversary of D Day

Holy God, protector of all who trust in you and all who seek you,:
Grant to those who serve in the defence of our country,
the assurance of your presence, the knowledge of your love,
and the guidance of your Spirit.

Bring healing and wholeness to people and nations:
let your mercy rule all that we do.
Be with all who defend your truth and your peace,
that they may vanquish injustice and wrong.
Give wisdom we pray to leaders and commanders,
that they may be a force for good on the earth.

In your wisdom embrace our enemies,
and those who wish us harm:
turn, the hearts of all to kindness and friendship.
We pray for countries currently at war,

Thinking especially of Ukraine and Russia

And of Israel and Palestine, 

And all who suffer from oppression and terror.

Be with all medics and chaplains,
and all who support the suffering:
give then wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience.
Sustain the anxious and fearful,
and renew them with courage and hope.
Comfort all worried families, whose loved ones are in danger:
surround them with your love, protect them from all harm.

Be with the sick and wounded,
stand by all prisoners and captives:
let your mercy be shown to all, and your power to heal and save.
Loving God in your mercy receive those fallen in battle, 

and all innocents who have died:
surround their loved ones with compassion,
and give them a patient faith.

Confirm what is founded on truth,
and establish your love in our hearts:
that justice may abound on the Earth,
and all peoples rejoice in your peace.
We offer all our prayers in the name of Jesus,

The Prince of Peace as we say together

The prayer he taught us:   Our Father…

Hymn 477  Let there be love shared among us  (NB. For ‘this nation’ replace with ‘all nations’)


The Peace: May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep guard over our hearts and minds in Jesus our Lord.  And the blessing of God, Creator, Redeemer and Enlivener be with us this day and always. 

Men from 51st Battalion Gordon Highlanders [including my dad, Pte P Turpie standing on left beside bike]

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