Over the years I’ve heard many people say, in many different ways, that young people don’t understand or appreciate or value the things of the past, and I’m sure I have done the same at times.
While that may be true of many things it is not so when it comes to ANZAC Day. The significance, understanding, appreciation and value of ANZAC Day has increased exponentially in my lifetime.
At the same time, as people contemplate whether the traditions and message of the church will survive the current generations who attend, there seems to be little doubt that the traditions and message of ANZAC Day will continue. Even with the onset of the pandemic last year it was impossible to quieten the traditions and message. Of course they needed some reinterpretation but the message was heard. We remembered. We did not forget.
In many respects it was easy for Parish Council to decide not to hold in-person services this coming Sunday. In their place there will be some options:
You can watch a short online service at 7:30am and 9:30am
You can join Rev’d Mary-Anne at St John’s Burleigh Heads at 8am or 10am
You can join together at a unique service of prayer, worship and communion at 5pm in the afternoon (with afternoon tea from 4pm).
It was easy because the roads will be blocked off preventing easy access to the church in the morning but also easy because it is important that, when the church is invited to be part of a community and cultural event of this significance, we show up. I do not take for granted the immense privilege I have of conducting the 9am Service at the Robina Community Centre. Indeed, as important as gathering for worship is, in many ways this is more important.
If we want people to hear, appreciate, understand and value the traditions and messages that make up our story, we have to take the time to listen to and understand their story. So when we are invited to be part of that story how could we say no? In the understanding of each other’s story we can find relationship, commonality and shared purpose. We can be surprised to discover that we are actually not that far away from each other.
Mary-Anne pointed out a few weeks ago that ANZAC Day is, in many ways, Australia’s resurrection story. We don’t need to hijack, co-opt or rebrand it so it fits with the church’s resurrection story but we can use it as an opportunity to build a bridge towards it. Instead of waiting for them to come to us how about we come to them? How about we prioritise ANZAC Day Commemorations over our regular worship times – after all we can still worship in many other ways and we can have special services to accommodate that.
I pray ANZAC Day is a special day for you, I hope to see you at one or a number of the options including our local march and service in Robina. Above all I pray we might be humble and stop and listen to the story being told, to share ours when we have an opportunity and thus build a bridge to the resurrection story that brings life to all every day of the year.
Lest we forget…