8th May 2023

Tyndale’s stained glass windows: War Memorial 1.

Of all Tyndale’s windows I find the war memorial one the most difficult to get to grips with. It only commemorates church members and not those associated with the Tyndale Mission, Sunday School and other agencies, and though erected in 1955, lists only those who lost their lives in the First World War.

But how would you design such a window? For me, I think, there would need to be not only celebration but also confession. It is certainly right to commemorate those who gave their lives for others, but are there not also questions? Reflecting on the causes of war, were there things that we, without appeasement, might have done to avoid the violence and devastation that took place? Did the forces of democratic governments set dangerous precedents in extending the boundaries of warfare beyond the battlefield to put civilian populations at risk? And with regard to the current war in Ukraine, whilst condemnation of the unprovoked attack on a sovereign neighbour is right, there seems to me to be a second conflict going on in my own mind and soul. How easy it has become to delight in military prowess and force of arms and to welcome every military success or opposition failure? Not only is there conflict on the ground but conflict within, with all our senses of God’s shalom contaminated by entertaining thoughts which make for death and destruction.

And so the third element in my war memorial window would be prayer – that prayer which we offer daily, that God’s kingdom may truly come in the ‘now’ of our daily lives as also in the ‘for ever’ which must be of his making.

John Briggs