Surely the day of peace must be ONE of the 365 of the year 1917?

The Congregational minister at Maidenhead thought peace must surely come in 1917.

THE COMING OF A NEW YEAR.

“To reap the harvest of perpetual peace
By this one bloody trail of sharp war.”

“Let the bugles sound the Truce of God to the whole world forever.”

What a year it has been, this stormy 1916! No one living has ever been through anything remotely resembling it. Europe has been full of weeping. Gloom is upon every corner of it. At this moment each side is mustering its utmost reserves for one great final effort. Surely the day of peace must be ONE of the 365 of the year 1917? And is it possible to harbour any lingering doubt what the issue will be? The enemy’s boastful trust in material resources, his disregard of human rights, his cruelty and oppression must re-act after the historic fashions of such. The plainest lesson of history, writ so plainly that the blindest eye ought to be able to see it, is that the strongest nations rot to their doom, when they disregard moral laws, and set Heaven at defiance.

No nation concerned in this war is guiltless before God. We have not in England honoured Him as we ought to have done, and this war is a call to us to mend our ways. But we entered it for the sake of right, without hope of anything to gain. And in the smoke of the battle and the din of the conflict, let us not forget to keep our ideals in mind. Let it be a holy war for us. Nations die of unfaithfulness, they do not die of wounds. They can survive many losses, one thing they cannot survive, that is, the dry rot of defection from God’s eternal laws. Let us remember that in this strife God has a will. The final destiny of the peoples is with Him. There are those who are fearing that human trust and brotherhood, morals and religion will be wounded and left hopeless after the war. That is faithless! Hilary spoke of an irreligious solicitude for God. There is no need for us to have compassion upon Him because His purposes are likely to be defeated, and His plans taken out of His hands.

But all high work, and in particular, the work of religion, will need our utmost endeavours during this coming year of trial and crisis. The question at issue will be, “Shall we be worthy to have a part in God’s great work of reconstruction and revival?” We in West Street have had our place, and an important place it has bee, in the shaping of the religious life of the neighbourhood. Shall we be able to retain it in the future? Have we faith enough, life enough, vision enough? Can we pray passionately enough, toil ardently enough? Dr. Adeney has been saying that “the old stiff forms of the Church must be broken through and a more straight line taken for the purpose of the Kingdom of God. Churches have been too self-contained and self-centred. Perhaps God will require the crucifixion of the Church for the salvation of the world.”

Something different is clearly required. The place of the Church in the nation is altogether unsatisfactory, and cannot continue as it is. The shaking-up of things which is going on to-day will compel us all to reconsider the place and work of religion in life. Our great leaders may plan schemes of reconstruction, but we can do nothing better meanwhile than to practice to be earnest, to learn to give our best to whatever seems highest and holiest.

We go into 1917 full of wonder as to what it may reveal. May our homes be all undarkened to its end! May we bear its inevitable sacrifices with devout belief in God and our cause. May a worthy peace, a peace which we shall feel to be a gift of Heaven, make one of its days golden and memorable for ever. And “may the peace of God,…… keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

T.F. LEWIS.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, January 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

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