From a Christian point of view, Anzac Day is a unique moment in the Australian calendar. It is a day when, quite unknowingly the Aussie psyche connects deeply with the Gospel story. Yet it is not only in the acts of mateship, self-sacrifice and redemptive suffering that this is profoundly so, but in the seeming folly of it all.
The apostle Paul wrote, “The gospel is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But for those who are being saved it is the very power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Celebrating a day of defeat is strange and can appear foolish, yet in that foolishness is a profound reality. Anzac Day echoes what appears as an even greater foolishness, the death of Christ. Yet, in God’s wisdom this is the greatest victory of all throughout eternity – the defeat of sin, death and Satan.
In the decades following both WWI and WWII Hobart Baptist Church was filled to capacity as people looked for answers in the face of the devastation and pointlessness of war. This is no longer the case as the memories of those times fade. For many in our community churches like this are relics of the past, and foolish in the face of the contemporary world full of science, technology, and globalisation.
And yet, the Gospel message the church carries, remains the seedbed of the values we see in Anzac Day. It was Jesus who said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13) a value at the heart of the Anzac tradition and celebrations.
Last Saturday we honoured men who were associated with this church, who died serving our country. We didn’t know them, but they are our friends.
Jesus also gave his life for us and demonstrated once and for all that God loves us. He is our friend and invites each one of us to be his friend in return.
Stephen L Baxter