8 May 1945 was such a significant day for those who were there, that it’s probable that many will have in their attics an old newspaper with a similar headline. “Stirring and emotional scenes” indeed. Yet this year’s commemoration rightly reflects that there were many for whom the day of celebration was not unrelieved joy – whose nightmare had not ended – whether they were suffering physically, feeling the sadness of loss, or struggling with changed circumstances.
And for everyone there were challenges still to face. As Churchill said to the crowds that day: “…we must begin the task of rebuilding … doing our utmost to make this country a land in which all have a chance”. Of course, there was a major political upset soon to come, and a different set of leaders, but the same challenge – how to win the peace.
70 years on, our VE Day anniversary celebration has coincided with the aftermath of a General Election. In an amazing parallel, the new day dawned on the end of a conflict between passionately-held beliefs, with similar radical shift in the political climate, an unexpected but clear result, and both winners and losers. And what is arguably a more complex challenge to those in positions of power to “make this country a land in which all have a chance”. They need our prayers – as Bishop David said in his comment on the General Election Outcome: “we are living through times of profound change. Our prayer for Scotland, its people and its leaders, must be that we shall find at the end of our journey new and creative ways of relating to the peoples and nations with whom we share these islands. It is the duty of Christians to honour and to pray for those who exercise authority in the state.”