Recently I came across some old church newsletters that were a window into another world. They came from my home church in south London and would have been my Grandfather’s and kept by my father; they were all from the 1940’s.
As I browsed through them there was much that was familiar: who would be preaching each Sunday, details about mid-week meetings, a note from the treasurer. Among the familiar were things you will not read in this newsletter.
In a newsletter of 1940, it said how virtually all of the Sunday School had now been evacuated to different parts of the country. In a later newsletter there were reports of those homes that had been damaged or destroyed in air-raids and how thankfully no one from the church had been killed in those raids. There were instructions of what to do if the air-raid sirens sounded during a church service, the benediction would be pronounced immediately and all were to proceed promptly to their homes or to the safety of a shelter (as a child I played in the remains of an air-raid shelter that still existed in the church grounds). There was a report of a son from a church family who had been reported missing. In a newsletter of 1945, there were reports of men returning home and to the church some of whom had been prisoners of war.
A mistake is to read such things from the perspective of today knowing how the war ended but when some of those words were first written and read the outcome was unknown. I recall a great aunt telling me years ago how during the Second World War she looked at the map with Britain seemingly alone and she thought all was lost.
In the snippets however that I read there was both faith and hope. Yes, it was grim, the area was bombed repeatedly, many were far from home, in great danger and some did not come home but faith, hope and also love remained.
As I read those snippets what struck me was how sometimes we think today we have challenging times but reading those newsletters one sees a different perspective. Another thought comes to mind, how I am sitting here typing this because my father did return from his years in the army going over after D-Day and being in France, Belgium and Germany and my mother returned from her time serving in the Land Army and so they were able to meet.
When reflecting on what I read it does suggest maybe we should face the challenges we have today with similar fortitude and less complaint: we should learn from the past and above all hold the same faith in God, and live demonstrating the same hope and love.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. The newsletters also contained a note about letting the minister know if someone was in hospital. Some things don’t change, over recent months several have been in hospital and back home before I was told, please let me know and now we also have email!