After the D-Day invasion the Allies assembled an artificial harbor at Arromanches, including a floating roadway that allowed ships to off load supplies directly to the roadway. It was from this harbor that supplies and troupes were unloaded to support the invasion – to the tune of 9,000 tons of material every day.
The port, that did not exist before D-Day June 6, was commissioned on June 14, 1944 – a feat of Allied ingenuity and hard work. The site of the first trucks rumbling off the floating roadway into the narrow lanes of Normandy was a blessed site to the French who had seen the Germans goose-stepping through their towns.
During 100 days of operation of the port, 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tons of material were delivered to France. The best performance of the port was in the last week of July 1944: during those seven days the traffic through Arromanches exceeded 136,000 tons or 20,000 tons per day.
This was good news in spite of the fact that some homes in Arromanches had to be razed by the Allies in order to make room for the big trucks and equipment that were coming off the harbor. This was so that they could make the sharp turn on to the narrow lanes of the town. The people of Arromanches were quite happy to give up a house or two in order to restore order and beauty to their lives by driving out the German invaders.
Arromanches is a true good-news story. Before D-Day it was under the thumb of Hitler. After D-Day the Arromanchaises were able to see a bright future with freedom from the German invaders. Anyone but a masochist would have desired this good news.
One of my frustrations with the Christian claim to “good news” is that it often does not sound like good news or provide a realistic connection to people who are living with various forms of bad news. Often it sounds more like good news to the bearer, like a Nazi soldier saying, “‘I’m here to liberate you” – not exactly good news.
What happened at Arromanches was good news to the people of that town for two strong reasons. The first was that they felt the evil of the German invasion and lived with it daily. If the Allies had invaded Normandy, absent the Germans, it would not have been good news to them. Good news requires the bad news. Perhaps that is why Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter heaven. Riches often mask bad news.
Reason number two was that they could see the good news happening. Ships, airplanes, marching Allies, and the sounds of battle were symbols of the coming defeat of the enemy. The battle made sense to them because of its direct connection to the flight of Hitler from their towns.
Another way to say this is that they “experienced” good news. When they went to a favorite tavern or restaurant and no German soldiers were there. Or they had their property and resources, previously confiscated by the invaders, returned to them. Or they no longer had to talk in whispers and worry about who was listening.
People understand that kind of palpable good news.
Matthew quoted the prophet Isaiah as he thought about the ministry of Jesus. “…the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light…” Isaiah 9:1,2. That light came in the form of healing, exorcising demons, forgiveness, and acceptance. What Jesus did was like the Allies invading France to drive out the Germans.
When you talk to Arromanchaises about D-Day you get smiles because of the good news it symbolized. So also when you talk to someone about forgiveness, acceptance, and answers to their most perplexing questions. Good News!