Australia is becoming increasingly seculars a Nation; ANZAC Day too has become increasingly secular through the years, some would go so far as to call ANZAC Day the secular religion of the land. The war itself is becoming a far distant memory, the make up and priorities of the community have shifted; yet the commemoration of the ANZACs has, in recent years, increased in community significance. The question posed: Is there still a place for the Christian faith in ANZAC Day celebrations?
I have had the great privilege of leading ANZAC Day services in different States over many years. I always count it a great privilege to stand with our Veterans, to thank them for their service, and to remember the fallen. There is a spirit, a mood, at an ANZAC Day dawn service that you find at very few non faith centric community events; a palpable search for meaning, and purpose and belonging, a desire to know that there is a purpose beyond, that sacrifice is not in vain: And our community turns to the ANZAC Day service in droves with a permissive and open attitude towards prayer, almost seeking the divine, waiting for that moment when life gains meaning. In many ways our community, our neighbours, use this national day of remembrance as a vehicle for their own spiritual quest. As the disciples, as the Church, I see ANZAC Day as an opportunity to stand boldly beside our neighbours, in amongst our community and answer their longing question, silently saying, yes there is purpose, meaning and value beyond today.
Jesus said "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Is it possible that God, in his unfailing all consuming love could be using ANZAC Day to draw all people back to himself? Could He be using the stories of heroism, mateship, leadership and sacrifice to prepare hearts and minds to receive the gospel? Could we as his disciples use the shared memory of sacrifice, the flickering of the flame, the sounding of the last post or the lowering of the flag as the sun rises to touch the heart of the person standing beside us? This ANZAC Day could we sacrifice our own comfort zones, our own prejudices and hangups to take part in great plan of redemption?
So is there still a place for the Christian faith in ANZAC Day celebrations? I believe the answer is yes! The bigger question is are we prepared to take part?
Grace & Peace
Jen is an energetic and passionate disciple of Christ who loves to share Jesus with anyone who will listen!