Pastoral Letter

A very present help in trouble (psalm 46 vs. 1 )

Dear Friends,
I am delighted to have been invited to write the minister's letter this month. During almost 50 years of ordained ministry I have contributed hundreds of magazine articles but this is a first for Loddon Link.
I have always given priority to the theme of Remembrance during the month of November.
The Royal British Legion, an organisation that has my deepest respect, has chosen this year to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Second World War generation, and to those of today's, who have served and sacrificed so much to defend our nation. On its website it comments that" we remember the collaboration of the Commonwealth and Allied Nations who stood shoulder to shoulder then to secure our freedom and the communities coming together today to protect us all."
One of these nations was Malta, an island country (archipelago )in the Mediterranean Sea, where my family and I have spent several very enjoyable holidays. Recently I was reading about one of its favourite sons, Lt. General Sir William Dobbie, affectionately known as "Dobbie of Malta".
Dobbie, a devout Christian, was Governor General of Malta at a time when its defence was at its darkest hour. Italian forces had overwhelming superiority, both in numbers and firepower, yet Malta stood firm and never fell to the enemy. For its courageous stand the whole island was awarded the GEORGE CROSS.
Dobbie admits that he realised the weakness of his position and that God alone - in the words of the psalm- was his very present help on time of trouble.
In his book entitled "A very present help " , published in 1945, Dobbie
records his first " special order of the day" on the island defining policy regarding its defence. It read, "the decision of His Majesty's government to fight until our enemies are defeated will have been heard with the greatest satisfaction by all ranks of the garrison of Malta. It may be that hard times lie ahead of us but, however hard they may be, I know that our courage and determination will not falter, and with God's help, we will maintain the security of this fortress.I therefore call upon all officers and other ranks humbly to seek God's help and then, in reliance upon him, To do their duty unflinchingly." I have to confess that my emotions were stirred as I read this truly inspirational account of a Second World War God-fearing General whose rock-like faith was indeed a very present help in trouble.
Although Dobbie survived Malta it had taken its toll on him and he was invalided home in 1944. One of the many reviews of his book said this "It demonstrates a life lived fully in God's will.From the time of personal commitment and thereafter, Dobbie demonstrates how he never walked without God at his side. A truly remarkable man! ".
.The present circumstances in which the whole world find itself involved as it wrestles with a global pandemic will affect the way in which we normally observe Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day but one thing is certain - WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

God bless you and keep you,
With all good wishes,

Kenneth Batt
Hon. Assistant Priest- Sherfield Benefice

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