Matthew 6: 13
But deliver us from the evil one.
The verse above is the NIV version from Matthew but of course in nearly every case when reciting the Lord’s Prayer the usual phrase is and deliver us from evil.
In these last few years there have been a lot of commemorations of 75 years since such and such an act of evil. Invasion of Poland (and all the others thereafter) The Blitz, The bombings of Coventry, Portsmouth Clydebank and Dresden, The Holocaust, the Burmese railway, to name but a few.
Today, 6th August marks another day of commemoration and remembrance as we remember that at 8:15 am local time a USAF B29 bomber nicknamed Enola Gay released its payload over a little known city in Japan and seconds later its name of Hiroshima became indelibly etched into human history when the first atomic bomb used in warfare destroyed the city and about 150,000 of its residents (including one British, seven Dutch and twelve American PoWs).
It is not my purpose to argue the rights and wrongs of this action any more than the Dresden air raid in this short meditation, there were and are good military reasons for both actions and undoubtedly both shortened the war firstly in Europe and later in Japan and on balance saved many lives possibly.
Those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s can no doubt recall the effect the existence and proven capability of A and nuclear bombs had on that growing up. The ever present knowledge that mankind now had the capability to exterminate virtually all life with a single action affected us all to a certain extent. I remember doing the Four-Minute-Warning drills at school, and being worried by the comment of one young teacher saying ‘none of this will make a blind bit of difference in a real attack, we’ll all be dead before we know it’. The kindly helpful public information films only added to the already long list of potential nightmare topics for a twelve year old!
As with all things some good came of it. Whether you agreed with Monsignor Bruce Kent and his fellow marchers to Aldermaston each Easter, the sight of them every year made you think about nuclear weapons and the deterrent.
There is another way too. Five years ago for the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima one of my former parishioners, in fact I had Baptised him as a toddler 15 years previously, was at a World Scout Jamboree in Japan. They were taken to Hiroshima on 6 August to mark the occasion. His comments afterwards were illuminating. He said “I had heard about The Bomb and that it was dropped, that it had meant there was no need to invade Japan and the war ended earlier. We had heard about CND and protests at Faslane. It wasn’t until we saw the city and the memorials that it suddenly became personal and all too real. Every one of the Scouts that day, and there were a lot of us, came away determined that our generation must do everything in our power to ensure we are the last in which such weapons and evil exist”. What he found even worse was being told that the Book of Remembrance is not finished. It is still regularly added to with the names of those 70 years after the event still dying of radiation sickness attributable to the bomb dropped from Enola Gay’s hold.
We pray that God delivers us from evil, if that evil comes in a Jackboot, an aeroplane bomb bay, in the bigoted view of the racist, the fist of the domestic abuser or whatever form it may take, and that God helps us to stay on guard to protect ourselves and those we love too.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, we need you every hour to protect from the effects of evil, we need you every hour to prevent us from being part, even unwittingly, of the forces of evil. Save us Father for we fear we may not be able to save ourselves.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,