Friday, April 23, 2010


Jarrod McKenna posted some thoughts about Anzac Day and the following vimeo on Sojourners blog.

Many people have participated in a whole array of conflicts with deep conviction that they were fighting and serving to protect people, places and traditions which they loved. Many people who also loved the Lord. I don't want to disrespect those people or the acts of sacrifice in which they participated.

War, however, is ugly. No one who has been part of it or experienced its aftermath would deny its horror. Every war in the modern era has spawned its own traumatic effects - battle exhaustion (1800s), soldier's heart (American Civil War), shellshock (WWI), battle fatigue, combat neurosis (WWII), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Vietnam War), and Gulf War Syndrome, are some of the psychological descriptions. 

Families of veterans have experienced death of loved ones, along with the results of trauma in those who return - depression, anxiety, rage, substance abuse, violence to name a few. Children have grown up fatherless or in orphanages as a result of conflicts all over the world. In some countries, those children have become the army when there are not enough adults to fight.

Being Christian is not synonymous with being a pacifist. People of faith can find justification to participate in conflict. History is proof of that.

While I would not want to take part in war (and have always called myself a pacifist), what would I do if my home or family were threatened? If I lived in a place like Rwanda, Sudan or the former Yugoslavia? Am I just blessed to have never had to answer the question for real?

Gallipoli or Calvary from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

The challenge for me here, is how will I respond to conversation about Anzac Day this weekend? Will I let the platitudes slide by? How will I respond if human sacrifice in the depravity and brokenness of battle is equated with the innocent, life-giving, relationship-renewing sacrifice of Jesus?

McKenna quotes Bonhoeffer in a challenge that we are too inclined to be inoffensive. That I would rather let an insult to Jesus and his ministry go than risk offending my mates. I have to plead guilty to that charge, all too often. I am a coward when it comes to controversy. Here goes for trying to be offensive 'for the right reasons'.

Then I need to consider the deep need many people have to identify with this ANZAC sacrifice story. Our local Dawn Service has been growing in attendance over the last few years with many young people and families.

People have a longing for the humble hero. A connection with the someone just like them, who has participated in the transcending narrative, been part of history. Anzac Day is safe, circumscribed and does not demand response, other than respect and admiration - a raising of  the glass to the heroes.

The sacrifice of Jesus, however demands the ultimate paricipation as he calls us to take up our crosses, too.

May people long to participate rather than just admire and raise a glass this Anzac Day.

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