Written by: Mr Royce Mahoney - Director of Teaching and Learning
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
- John 15:13
Anzac Day is one of the most significant days in Australia. All around the country it is commemorated by the government, the military, the media, schools – and interestingly the Church. One might think that the Church would abhor violence in all its forms, especially the needless sacrifice of human life. To consider the mythology of ANZAC, however, is to move beyond war or the simple waste of life. It is crucial to understand that the romanticisation of war is certainly not the intention of any war memorial or service. ANZAC day symbolises the maturing of a country, the birth of an identity and the reinforcement of values that celebrate life. ANZAC mythology is about the sacrifice of ‘mates’ for a cause in which they believed. It is about love, loyalty, honour, integrity and the value of life. No ANZAC or Australian who has been touched by war would ever seek to glorify violence.
We are asked to take pause and think about the sacrifice that each and every member of the defence forces has made in order to protect our sovereignty and peace. The way we usually remember is by taking some time out; whether it is a minute in silence, or an hour or two watching the ANZAC Day march, or some time in prayer. We remember those who have fallen or given what is known as the ultimate sacrifice. As Christians, it is appropriate to think about the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ given by our Lord and saviour. To live a Christian life involves reflecting on the price Jesus paid, but it to goes beyond this simple act. Remembering Jesus means a continuous, conscious orientation of our life. In other words, we are not just to remember Jesus once in a while, but to keep Jesus within our thoughts and hearts. He should always be at the forefront of our minds. Our lives should reflect our remembering as we strive to live out lives in the image of Jesus. Remembering Jesus also implies living the way Jesus taught us to live.
This is relevant to ANZAC Day in more ways than just a simple acknowledgment of sacrifice. We are also thinking about the values taught by Jesus. All nations want peace and this is only attainable through embracing the values espoused by Jesus such as love, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion. In our remembrance of the fallen are we also thinking about our saviour? Do we remember him every now and then, without Him impacting our life? Or do we strive to remember Jesus often, with the desire to love Him, imitate Him, serve Him and embrace His values? This is a major challenge, but in remembering the sacrifice of servicemen and women, and being challenged by what they have given, we must also be challenged by living up to Jesus’ standards.
The Recessional used in ANZAC Services is an ode written by the English poet Rudyard Kipling in 1897. It became famous as the source of the often quoted words “Lest we forget” in ANZAC Day ceremonies. Many graves throughout the world remember the sacrifice of over 102,000 Australian military personnel who died with the symbol of the cross. We remember their willingness to risk their life in order to defend something that they believe to be true – peace and freedom. However, we must also remember that in order for us to truly have peace we must find peace not only in this world, which may be very fleeting, but beyond and into the eternal. It is fitting that we commemorate the fallen, it is right to acknowledge their sacrifice, we should hold ceremonies to honour those who defend freedom and peace, love and compassion. However, on this special day that speaks of the ‘birth of our nation’ we must also remember Jesus, for it is through Him that we will truly find peace.
Lest We Forget.