(on phone) Hello. Vicar speaking….Oh, Mrs. Pemberton. How nice. (Aside) Please, Lord, what have I done to deserve this?….Oh, did you? I didn’t see you waiting after church. Sorry, Lord. What can I do for…?….I see. And what was wrong with the prayers?….Well, I did include our forces fighting overseas. And mentioned the men from the village, so….No, no, I didn’t mention the, er, huns. Do you think we should pray for them, too? That’s very enlightened of you, Mrs…..Oh. What do you mean pray against them?…. I see. Well, I’m not sure the church believes in hellfire and damnation any more, but…Well, yes, Nazism is indeed an evil doctrine and we must…Well, no, I don’t think every German is evil. After all…Mrs. Pemberton, has it occurred to you that on Sunday while we were praying for our troops, in churches all over Germany other Christians were praying to the same God for their troops?….Not Christians?….Oh, I see, Roman Catholic. Well, er…But I think a large proportion of Germans are actually Protestant. Remember Martin Luther….Martin Luther….Well, he was…oh, never mind. Oh, there’s someone at the door Sorry, Lord, but well, I hope you… I must go and answer it. But I promise I’ll give what you said some thought….I’m sorry, I really must go. Thank you so much for… Goodbye, Mrs. Pemberton.
Oh, Lord, why have you inflicted that woman on me? But she does highlight my dilemma. How do you reconcile war and Christianity? Obviously Hitler must be fought. But Jesus told us to love our enemies. Baldly stated. Matthew 5:44. Absolutely clear. No loopholes. How do I reconcile that with all the killing? I wonder what Mrs.Pemberton would have said about that. Or, never mind her – what about Mrs. Johnson? Or the Macdonalds? Or anyone else who’s lost husbands or sons? And you, Lord – how do you deal with being fervently prayed to by both sides? How often have I asked you for guidance? The Bishop’s no help, either. He’d probably agree with Mrs. Pemberton.
My life was so much easier before the war. After all, I only came to this cosy rural parish for a rest after St. Cuthbert’s. But perhaps that’s why you gave me Mrs. Pemberton – to ensure my bed of roses had at least one large thorn.
Oh. Now there really is someone at the door. Let’s see…looks like Jehovah’s Witnesses. Oh, dear. At the Vicarage? Before the war I’d have invited them in, for an argument about something I could be sure of. But now, with their fervent conscientious objection – their absolute certainty about it…
No I’m not finding the war at all easy.
By John Emms