“What true Christian can think of the feebleness of organized religion in the face of the world’s great need, through these terrible years, without a sense of bitter shame!”

Nonconformist churches also commemorated the anniversary of the war.

Tilehurst

The celebration of the Fourth Anniversary of the Declaration of War was the occasion of further united Free Church effort in Tilehurst.
We met for United Prayer at 8 a.m. in the Congregational Church, and spent a very memorable three quarters of an hour around the Throne of Grace. Some twenty six friends from the three churches met for this service, and the atmosphere was very intense.

The Wesleyan Church was crowded in the evening at 6.30 for the United Preaching Service, the Congregational Church being closed.

Representatives from the three churches took part in the conducting of the service. Mr Beckley for the Wesleyans, Mr Sleep for the Armour Hall, and our Pastor [Revd E. J. Perry] for our church. Mr Perry was appointed to preach the sermon, and he chose for his text the familiar words which close the Lord’s Prayer: “Deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory for ever”. The preacher sought to show the fact of the Sovereignty of God. People had often said, “Why doesn’t God do something?”, but is there after all anything left for God to do? …

The service was marked by great solemnity and earnestness, everyone feeling that we were bearing the burden of a common shame and sorrow. Suitable hymns were specially selected, and the singing of them was led by a strong united choir.

Members of our church returned to their own place of prayer to meet around the Lord’s Table for the Sacrament.

We all devoutly trust that August 4th, 1919 may be spent in very much happier circumstances, our many loved ones restored to our home circles. Meanwhile, let us ease one another’s burden all we can, and live in a way that is worthy of the great sacrifices of our “boys”.

Maidenhead

THE FOURTH WAR ANNIVERSARY.

If we feel that we can ask for the shining of God’s face upon us in the midst of war, it is not because we believe that we are the favourites of Heaven, that God is specially the God of the British Empire. It is because there is no manner of doubt in our minds that our cause is the cause of universal righteousness, that we might have escaped the war altogether if we had been willing to stand by and see weaker nations suffer under the heel of brutality and cruelty. The very heart of all our effort, of all our prayers to God, is just this, that our war is a holy crusade.

And as the struggle lengthens out, and the sorrow seems sometimes overwhelming, our hope of endurance, the courage to go on, will depend ever more upon this flaming certainty, that this is a sacred cause. We should be traitors to heaven and earth if we allowed war-weariness to abate our fixed resolve to go on to the end for the sake of the world’s future, and the future of Christ’s Kingdom. To leave it half done would be to leave it wholly undone, to leave the world so shadowed by a great evil, that life would be monstrously burdened and blackened, and rest and happiness would be impossible for any nation.

So we may lift up our hearts to God in confidence and trust. To know that God rules is the secret of peace and strength. Religion is not a “side show,” it is the very life blood of men and nations. If it is needful to increase the yield of wheat and potatoes to feed the body, it is needful yet more to increase the yield of prayer and trust in God, that the soul may live. It would be a sad ending for the nation to discover, after such splendid heroism and magnanimous self-sacrifice, that it had won the war indeed, but had lost its own soul.

In faith then that the mighty God is with us, may we return to the great task which is upon us to fulfil. It may be that the struggle will yet be long, but we shall not faint if we know that God sees and rules, that right is right, and that right is might. “I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to do you good in the latter end.” ”

THE WAR ANNIVERSARY.

The attendances at both services on August 4th were very cheering, and a spirit of gratitude to God and confidence for the future was evident. But what happened to the “United” meeting on the previous evening? There were no more than about 60 present in all, representing the four Free Churches! Say 15 from each.

In many towns, all the Churches, Free and Established, joined together for once to thank God and His mercies to us as a nation. In Maidenhead we did not get further than the reading of a formal resolution by the Mayor under the open sky, and the singing of the National Anthem. It appears as though we have a very long way to go yet before any kind of Christian unity is possible.

What true Christian can think of the feebleness of organized religion in the face of the world’s great need, through these terrible years, without a sense of bitter shame! In the midst of the storm, when so much would have been gained by the calm inspiring voice of a united Church, we stand in sections, glancing suspiciously at each other, while the nation looks on with curled lip. Who does not feel the shame, the deep curse of it? If it be not mended, a world in earnest will pass the Churches by.

For, be sure, it is due to shallowness of spiritual life, not to depth. The unity, for which so many are now seeking, will not come, and ought not to come, by any Church throwing its principles upon the dust-heap, and embracing creeds that it cannot with a whole heart believe; it can only come by all the Churches, representing many different points of view, agreeing that in comparison nothing matters, neither creed nor form of worship, compared with sincere love to Christ, and loyalty to His Kingdom. And, as the preacher said in our pulpit on August 4th,

“I dare to say, on behalf of this Church, that we call all men brethren who call Jesus, Lord, and will work with them in any good cause, and kneel with them in prayer and common worship. We will not be less broad than the Apostle who said “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”

Reading

On Sunday, August 4th, a United Service of Intercession, in which the Congregations of all denominations at this end of the town will be represented, will be held on St. John’s Lawn, Fatherson Road, at 3.30, in connection with the 4th anniversary of the war. We are sure that a large number of our people will wish to be present on that occasion.

Tilehurst section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14); Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine (D/N33/12/1/5); Trinity Congregational Magazine, August 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

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