Listen to or read a short service of prayer, commemorating the Lesser Festival of Julian of Norwich, spiritual writer, c. 1417, and the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.
On this day in 1373, when she was thirty years old and suffering from what was considered to be a terminal illness, a woman of Norwich, whose own name is unrecorded, experienced a series of sixteen visions, which revealed aspects of the love of God. Following her recovery, she spent the next twenty years of her life pondering their meaning and recorded her conclusion in what became the first book written by a woman in English, The Revelations of Divine Love. At an unknown point in her life, she became an anchoress attached to the Church of St Julian in Norwich, and it was by this name of Julian that she came to be known to later generations. She died around the year 1417.
As well as celebrating the life of Julian of Norwich, today marks a significant moment in modern history. Today is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, when the sounds of war fell silent on this continent. Today we join in prayer conscious of the need for God’s forgiveness for the sin and the desire to dominate others that leads to conflict between people, and war between nations.
As we remember the many soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives restraining evil and opposing tyranny, so we also come in thanksgiving for the years of peace that the nations of Europe have enjoyed since the Second World War. Let us join in together in joy, as those who gathered on that first Victory day, glad of our fellowship in Christ, grateful for our capacity for laughter and love, and in remembrance of those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and peace.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
Most Holy God, the ground of our beseeching,
who through your servant Julian revealed the wonders of your love:
grant that as we are created in your nature and restored by your grace,
our will may be made one with yours
that we may come to see you face to face
and gaze on your for ever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace;
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth;
that in tranquility your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Why are the nations in tumult,
and why do the peoples devise a vain plot?
The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his anointed:
‘Let us break their bonds asunder
and cast away their cords from us.’
He who dwells in heaven shall laugh them to scorn;
the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak to them in his wrath
and terrify them in his fury:
‘Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord; he said to me:
‘You are my Son; this day have I begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’
Now therefore be wise, O kings;
be prudent, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and with trembling kiss his feet,
lest he be angry and you perish from the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are all they who take refuge in him.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:1-6 (NRSV)
This is the word of the Lord.
In peace let us pray to the Lord.
We pray for the leaders of the nations, that you will guide them in the ways of freedom, justice and truth.
We pray for those who bear arms on behalf of the nation, that they may have discipline and discernment, courage and compassion.
We pray for our enemies, and those who wish us harm, that you will turn the hearts of all to kindness and friendship.
We pray for the wounded and the captive, the grieving and the homeless, that in all their trials they may know your love and support.
Most Holy God and Father,
hear our prayers for all who strive for peace
and all who fight for justice.
Help us, who today remember the cost of war,
to work for a better tomorrow;
and, as we commend to you lives lost in terror and conflict,
bring us all, in the end, to the peace of your presence;
through Christ our Lord. Amen
We give thanks, O God our Father
for the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord from the dead:
for his victory over sin and the grave;
for his risen presence in our daily lives;
for his promise of life immortal with him.
Accept our praise,
and teach us day by day to live rejoicingly
in the faith of him who died for us,
and rose again, and is alive for evermore,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory
for ever and ever.
May the risen Christ give us his peace.