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Archdeacon Rachel reflects on D-Day - Thought For The Week

When I was eighteen, I went on a school trip to France. I loved it. I got to hang out with friends as we dreamed dreams and cast grand visions for our future; we sneakily tried cheap French wine for the first time and tested out our appalling French. Then, we visited the D-Day landing sites in Normandy and walked the quiet, neat cemeteries filled with the allied dead. I’ll never forget it. The rows upon rows of white gravestones.

This week, as the world commemorated the eightieth anniversary of that extraordinary day, my thoughts have focussed on the courage and sacrifice of the allied effort to liberate Europe. But I’ve also been transported back to my school trip to France over thirty-five years ago. My friends and I thought we were so grown up – we were eighteen, after all! However, we were so young. And this reminds me of the youthfulness of many who faced hell as they served the cause of freedom in June 1944. Even those who were in their twenties seem young to me now.

In the bible, God says, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’ It is, I think, a vision of the kingdom of God’s Love. But this week, it’s chimed with my thoughts of those young men who landed on D-Day. They would have had hopes and visions for the future like all young people. Yet they made the ultimate sacrifice. Some survived, of course, and grew old. A few were in Normandy this week. I was moved by how much they still think of the friends they left behind. I pray for their peace and that they will see their old friends again in God’s kingdom, on that other shore and in a greater light.

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