A sermon given by The Right Reverend Chris McLeod, Dean
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another (1 John 3.16).
- Anzac Day
Around the corner from our house where I grew up were some RSL cottages for returned service men and women. They were called if my memory serves me correctly ‘Darby and Joan’ Cottages. Most of the returned soldiers would have been WW1 veterans, but as I was quite young, I didn’t really appreciate this at the time. There used to be a nice old man who used to talk to me when I was playing in the front yard when he was going to catch the bus. His name was Mr. Strickland. He would tell me stories about far off places like Egypt. I vaguely remember him having only one leg. I found him rather fascinating. He gave me a little smoking figurine. You would put a little rolled up cigarette in his mouth and he would smoke it. It would be regarded as a scandalous gift to give a child now, but it was a gift given to a curious boy when smoking was not seen as the problem it is now. I think of Mr. Strickland on Anzac Day, and how he would have been a young man off on the adventure of war, but probably not realizing the ‘hell’ that he was walking in to. War involves human beings!
Wars are very serious business and, unfortunately, from time to time we find ourselves in them. The young men and women who have fought in the times of war have helped us to be free. We pray as Christians that all wars will cease. We are people of peace, following the Prince of peace. However, we are grateful for those who offered their lives in service of this country, and to stand up for freedom. The text from John above is primarily about Christian martyrdom, but I think it is broad enough to cover those who gave their lives so we can live the lives we presently do in Australia. Let us pray that we will never enter war again, and give thanks for those who have served, and continue to serve, to keep us safe.
2) – The disturbing comfort of the Book of Revelation
Tonight’s 1st reading from the Book of Revelation reminds of the place the risen Christ has as the holder of the keys of Death and Hades. Many dislike the Book of Revelation. Its message can be at best bewildering; at worst totally frightening. The image of Christ ‘with hair like white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire’ is somewhat frightening and disturbing image. It is meant to be! However, the ‘first and the last, and the living one’ as Christ refers to himself here, is the one who as the holder of the keys encourage John of Patmos not to be afraid. In the background here is the place that Christ has in setting things right – the place of judgment.
Many of us find the idea of judgment disturbing. However, if you are like me, you do find some comfort in the idea that nothing goes unnoticed by God. The cruel and horrible events that occur in our world, and especially during the time of war, do not go unnoticed. The events currently happening in Ukraine and other parts of our world do not go unnoticed by God. There is the one who holds the keys of Death and Hades. Christ himself watches over the world, and, if the essential message of the Book of Revelation is to be believed, which I think it is, there will be a time when those who inflict great harm on the world will stand before the judge. It is a reminder that Christ is the true ruler of the world. It is a disturbing yet coldly comforting thought that judgment at the wrongs of the world is the companion of the good news of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is a sobering thought and a reminder to use aright the time left for us.
Let us pray:
A Prayer for Anzac Day
O God, our ruler and guide,
in whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation,
we give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this land
and for those who laid down their lives to defend them:
We pray that we and all the people of Australia,
gratefully remembering their courage and their sacrifice,
may have grace to live in a spirit of justice,
of generosity, and of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.