at five ment*

June 6th 1944. D Day. The decisive moment in the Second World War. Nazi Germany had overrun mainland Europe but (despite continued bombing raids) had not been able to invade Britain as planned in 1940. Since then WW2 continued on many fronts, but the decisive moment in the war would be whether or not a foothold could be established in Western Europe.

Intense secrecy surrounded the allied invasion plans. Countless subterfuges led the Nazi Commanders to believe that it would take place in the Pas de Calais region, whereas in reality it was planned for Normandy. Those subterfuges (including on the night of June 5th a fleet of bombers flying precision formations across the channel dropping aluminium foil to look (on radar) like an invasion fleet) meant that opposition to the landings was not as heavy as it could have been and by the end of the day a toehold had been established which meant that the liberation of Europe from the West could begin. Many died that day in the name of freedom.

American Cemetery Normandy 6The War continued for another year, and there would be a lot of fighting until the final surrender, but D-Day was the decisive battle. The outcome of the war swung on that decisive victory. If you know The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe you will remember how CS Lewis portrayed Aslan’s death and resurrection and how that spelt the beginning of the end for the White Witch. It’s the same metaphor.

You could say that Jesus’ death on the cross was D-Day in the battle against evil. His death appeared to be a defeat for God but instead it proved, because of the resurrection, to be the decisive victory over evil and death. We have not yet reached the end. Evil still has the capacity to strike, to wound, to hurt, to be destructive, but the outcome is now certain. God wins.

Writing to an early church (1 Corinthians 15) Paul put it like this:

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’[h]

55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?’[i]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

It’s important not to miss the ‘therefore’ at the end. Knowing that death and evil have lost the decisive battle makes a difference to us and how we react and respond (even to evil). God wins and that gives us confidence.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*This contains a very simplistic historical analysis of WW2. I recognise that it’s a lot more complex than I have described!

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