A sermon given during the 6:00pm ANZAC Day Choral Evensong, by Lay Minister Jack Monaghan, on the 23rd April 2023.
Sermon Anzac Remembrance Service
In the name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Ghost. Amen.
First I would like to introduce myself. My name is Jack Monaghan and I am a Lay Minister at St Peter’s Cathedral. I thank God and I feel privileged to be here tonight in what is my first act of public preaching. My background is that for the past 8 years, I have been a South Australian Public Servant. Prior to that, I worked in the Hospitality Industry. I am married to my lovely wife Jeannie and I have a Labrador called George. My father is a retired Infantry Soldier serving for over 20 years in the Royal Australian Regiment with war service in Vietnam. His father was an Infantry Soldier serving in North Africa during World War II. And his father was an Infantry Soldier serving in France during World War I. Myself, I very briefly served in the Army Reserves here in Adelaide where I made some wonderful lifetime connections as an 18-year-old. The military medals that I am wearing tonight are from a mentor and a friend of mine named Paul McKay. The last time they were in this Cathedral was at Paul’s funeral on the 8th of February 2014. Paul was my Platoon Commander in the Army Reserves before he joined the Royal Australian Regiment serving in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan in October 2011. I would like to thank Paul’s mother Angela for her support, kindness, and love, and for the opportunity to recognise and remember Paul in this beautiful place of worship that we share.
As we gather this evening for our ANZAC Remembrance Service, we recognise the sacrifices made by so many brave men and women who fought for our freedom and security. We honour those who have given their lives in service to our country, and we pray for those who continue to serve today. I would like to make a special acknowledgement of the service personnel and their families who continue to struggle with postwar injuries. These are more often than not invisible and within. I would like to further acknowledge that the structures currently in place for the repatriation of our Veterans and Serving Personnel require attention in a manner that can affect real change and that will save lives. As we reflect on the courage and selflessness of our fellow Australians, we turn to the scripture of Micha Chapter 4, Psalm 46, and John Chapter 15 for guidance and inspiration.
In the book of Micha, we read of a vision of a future where nations will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. War will be no more, and people will live in peace and prosperity. This is a beautiful image of the world we all long for, but it can seem distant and unattainable, especially in a world that is still plagued by conflict and violence. It is easy to focus on what we perceive as major conflicts however there are over 110 armed conflicts currently in the world today with more than 45 in the Middle East and North Africa, more than 35 in Africa, 21 in Asia, and 7 armed conflicts in Europe. This can all be rather depressing that there is so much continual suffering going on in the World. But we must remember that this vision of peace we gain from Micha is not just a dream, it is a promise from God. And it is a promise that through Christ we can work towards every day.
In Psalm 46, we find comfort in the knowledge that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. When we face difficult and uncertain times, we can trust in God’s unfailing love and protection. And when we feel overwhelmed by the challenges of our world, we can take refuge in God’s peace and strength.
But we must also remember that God calls us to be active participants in creating a world of peace and justice. In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples that he has chosen them to bear fruit that will last. He calls them friends, and he gives them a new commandment: to love one another as he has loved them. This commandment is not just a suggestion, it is a call to action, as I like to remind people Jesus doesn’t do exceptions. To love one another means everyone, no exceptions.
As followers of Christ, we are called to be agents of peace and love in our world. We are called to be peacemakers, to work for justice against injustice, and to serve others with humility and compassion. We are called to live out our faith in practical ways, to be a light in the darkness and a voice for the voiceless.
This is the legacy of our ANZACs; it includes our current and past serving members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It is a legacy that we must continue to uphold and pass down through the generations. We must honour their sacrifices by working towards a world where peace and justice prevail. We must remember that our freedom and security came and continues to be at a great cost, and we must never take that or them for granted.
As we gather together on Tuesday ANZAC Day, let us remember the past with gratitude and honour, and let us look to the future with hope and determination. Let us commit ourselves to the work of creating a world of peace and justice, and let us do so with the knowledge that God is with us every step of the way. Please also be mindful that ANZAC Day can be difficult and painful not only for surviving service personnel but for the families who have lost loved ones in horrific and tragic circumstances. We are currently going through a Royal Commission into Defence and Veterans Suicide that is incredibly painful for the people who are directly involved. They have been ignored and dismissed for many years. I am asking that you keep them in your immediate prayers.
May God bless Australia and New Zealand, our veterans, their families, and all those who continue to serve. May we honour their sacrifices by striving towards a world of peace and love, and may we always remember that we are called to be a light in the darkness.