Remember the Fallen

It is a very significant and highly unusual Easter this year in Australia and New Zealand. For the first time ever Easter and ANZAC day coincide with one another. I find it incredibly ironic that the date of Easter, the most important day in the Christian calendar, is determined each year by an astronomical event. It goes something like this... the weekend closest to the first full moon which comes after the Autumn (southern hemisphere) or Spring (northern hemisphere) equinox; that date being March 21. A couple of years ago we had the earliest Easter for over 100 years. This year it's quite late, with Easter Sunday on April 24. The next day, April 25, is a day of special significance to Australians and New Zealanders. It is the day we remember those who have fought in conflicts, not just WW1 and WW2, but all conflicts and peace keeping efforts we as nations have been actively involved in. It is a day when we remember the fallen.

The date goes back to 1915 when, due to a monumental stuff-up, ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops landed at the wrong spot; Gallipoli - a small beach on the coast of Turkey. Heavily outnumbered and never having the high ground, there were massive casualties on both sides. Whilst it was a military disaster, for Australia; a relatively young nation with federation only occurring 14 years earlier, it was the time when we consider ourselves to have "come into our own". Great respect was one between both sides, and there is a deep respect between Australia, New Zealand and Turkey resulting from the bravery of all involved.

As a country Australians today remember those who have fallen. At Gallipoli, in particular, but in all conflicts throughout all the world where our serving men and women have fought and died so bravely for our benefit. The freedoms we enjoy as a nation were bought with a price, and the freedoms that continue to be fought for today continue to come at a price. Whatever our political or theological opinion is regarding war, we all join together on this day to acknowledge and pay respect to the bravery of those who don the uniform and place the lives of others above their own.
We will remember them. Lest we forget.

I would suggest that ANZAC Day is an intensely spiritual day. Anyone who attends a memorial service today will participate in prayers and hymns. Silence will be observed, and the significant rituals of this day will be participated in; the last post, the laying of wreathes, and lowering and raising of flags. For Christians this is but a day after we have participated in significant Easter services. The similarities between the two events are significant.

At Easter we, as Christians, remember the fallen Christ. We remember that Jesus Christ humbled himself, even to death on a cross. He was killed by the most horrific means that humanity has ever devised - a roman crucifixion. He truly died and was truly buried. At Easter we remember the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We remember the fallen one.
We will remember him. Lest we forget.

But the story does not end there. This was not just another pointless execution in the name of justice; either Divine or human. For Easter Sunday displays to the world the purpose of Good Friday. Jesus defeated the grave, rose again and lives again the resurrected life that we look forward to. Through participation in his resurrection all of humanity can be restored from its fallen state. We no longer have to live under the rule of sin and death, but can enjoy God's righteousness and his eternal life starting now. On Easter Sunday we thank God that he remembered the fallen.... us!

He did remember us. He did not forget!

This is the joy of Easter, and indeed the Christian message. This is the hope that we live in now. We look to Christ and see that death is not the final part of the story. We see with the eyes of faith his resurrected body and with hope see that we too will be clothed with such a body "on that day". 

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"


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