Rosemary and I are travelling and we’ve stopped at a little town near Lismore. The travellers’ washing is on at the Laundromat. And now for a cup of tea. In the window of the first coffee shop is a pre-ANZAC display.
In every town we have passed there are signs indicating that the centre road will be closed this Friday for a remembrance of some kind. A parade. A service or maybe a game of two-up. No matter, we are really as a nation, wedded to the ANZAC Day idea.
What is it about this? One of my predecessors died on a battlefield overseas. My father was retained in Australia as being essential to the war effort when he wanted to be a pilot in New Guinea. There was sacrifice all through the family at various turns of WWII. I missed the ballot draft for Vietnam and have absolutely no idea of the horrors which men my age endured and faced.
Anzac is when each of us confronts our own mortality and a quiet remembrance with thanks for those who heard a distant drum and considered it a call. Without thought of themselves they went to the sacrifice of the killing fields and in return would probably only ask one thing; “Remember Me”. And so we do.
When the parable teacher Jesus was in his last hours of life, he sat with his friends and as he broke bread he asked them the same thing; “Remember Me.” What are we to remember? We remember that he, in the words of St Peter “left us an example, that we should follow his steps.”
A total sense of a life given to others. A life whose only desire for “more”, was that of giving more of himself for the benefit of those around him.
In one of the ancient Middle Eastern languages, the word for war approximates to; “the desire for more cows”. In our “more-obsessed”
society, no wonder there are turf wars, family wars, community wars, tribal wars. It’s always the desire for more- for- me.
In ANZAC, as in true followers of Jesus, we glimpse a desire not for more-for-me, but a desire for the wellbeing, security and happiness of others.
Remember me? We do. With grateful humility. Cross or killing fields so that for us it is an example and time we beat our swords into ploughs, and our spears into pruning shears. No longer at war with God,ourselves or others.