As I write this on Easter Monday, this year it falls on one of the most important, significant days on the Australian calendar. No, it isn’t only the day after Resurrection Sunday, it is the day we remember death – the death of many Australian and New Zealand soldiers in battles fought around the globe since the late nineteenth century.
This is ANZAC Day, the Australian New Zealand Army Corps Day of Remembrance.
Australia is a very blessed nation in that no war has ever actually been fought on our own land. However, having said that, those who have seen the recent film. Australia, saw scenes of our most northern city, Darwin, being bombed in World War II. What may not be known as well is that enemy mini-submarines entered Sydney Harbour and caused loss of life and damage that brought home, in a way never expected by many other Australians on our eastern shores, that we were at war! Other than these incidents, we have been so blessed never to have had men fighting men on our own soil with all the horrors of war. We do need a day of remembering.
The first time Australian armed forces were involved in a war was in the late nineteenth century during the Boer War in South Africa. The next time was years later when our troop ships left to support England during World War I. That we have made April 25th our nationwide day of remembrance often causes many to shake their heads in puzzlement – and perhaps even wonder. This was a time of war when the British and allied forces suffered a dreadful defeat at Gallipoli against the Turkish army. This photo of World War I memoribilea was taken in a small Australian town's museum - so typical of many, many such small towns and villages across our nation trying to help us "remember."
Over twelve months ago I made contact with a fellow Australian writer, Andrea Grigg. Since then, I have been privileged to meet this delightful, very talented Christian woman and am delighted she has signed her first contract for a Christian novel – an inspirational romance being released next year by Even Before Publishing in Queensland. Andrea is a lady of many talents and last year in my April post here I shared the ANZAC song she has written. The song and images of soldiers at war are so good I want to share it again. I trust if you viewed it then you will still do so again. It shows clearly what Australians are involved in today and I have just watched and listened again. It brought home to me once again just a very, very little of what our soldiers have faced – where they have died – not only at Gallipoli but in far too many countries and wars since. Sadly today, our soldiers are still serving and dying in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is the first time I remember our national ANZAC day being the very day after we have remembered THE Day death was conquered once and for all time. RESURRECTION SUNDAY!
How appropriate, and yet yesterday during our worship service, I couldn’t help but wonder just how many folk throughout Australia gathered at dawn services, at special church celebrations to remember that God raised Jesus from the dead. That DAY God demonstrated once for all time that Christ’ death on a cruel cross was acceptable to Him to pay the price for OUR sin.
Throughout the world, remembrance days of special significance for nations are held in the hope that people will not forget the sacrifices soldiers have made for those nations. The surviving soldiers of wars long gone are being replaced by other generations who could perhaps too soon forget what it has cost to live in peace, what it also warns about the cost of war. Sadly, this morning on our TV was a grieving mother of an Australian killed in Afghanistan. And so another generation is grieving today from modern wars.
Even more important for us never to forget is that a spiritual war is still raging. The enemy wants humankind’s allegiance. He hates God, seeks to enslave, to control, to destroy God’s creation – whether through physical wars or even more destructive, the war for our souls. But the Creator God is a God who loves so much He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have everlasting Life.
That is what we must never, never, never forget.
It was Jesus Himself who told His disciples the words we often hear at our ANZAC day services across the world.
“Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
But it is sad to me the rest of Christ’s words in that passage in the Bible are most times omitted. He went on to say, “Your are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:13-14)
Perhaps even more important for us today is to remember the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 5: 6-10
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Mary is a best-selling inspirational romance author... A Queensland farmer’s daughter, she became a registered nurse before going to Bible College. She and her minister husband have three adult children and five grandchildren, enjoyed over 46 years of ministry including church planting in Australia, two years in England, three short term mission trips to Africa and now live in Tasmania, Australia's island state. Her 19th title, Justice at Baragula will be released next month, May, 2011. Do watch out for book giveaways here and also on her own blog http://www.maryhawkins.blogspot.com/