Recently I spoke to a man in his 80’s who acknowledged that just a few decades ago when attending his local Anzac Day commemorations, it was just a few old diggers in uniform huddled together and they all wondered if it would continue when they died. In recent years however, there has been a resurgence, like a spiritual awakening where the younger generations are keen to pay their respects to those who have gone before them. What is it that has caused this change?
I doubt anyone can say for sure, but I think there are two main reasons. Firstly, I think many in our generation are grateful for the blessed life we have and the unprecedented freedoms that define our lives. Most of us who were born here realise that we won the lottery to grow up in Australia and did nothing to deserve it, so we are grateful to those who went before (especially those who paid with their lives) for our freedom. The reality of this service unto death is captured in the verse often quoted at these time “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Secondly, I think the appeal of Anzac Day commemorations taps into a spiritual desire within us all. Deep down we know that there is more to life that materialism and hedonism, our soul searches for something more. We aren’t sure where to find it, many of us have tried and realised that it isn’t in buying shiny new things or through the emptiness of online life. We long to be part of a legacy, a bigger story, something that really matters. This is where Jesus answers that desire, he is the one who lays down his life for each of us (before we were his friends) and he invites us to join God’s big story. This is something that we each decide for ourselves but we were never intended to continue this journey in isolation. So as you take time to remember the Anzacs and those who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy in this life, consider too that Jesus lay down his life so that you could join his team and enjoy his freedom now and in the life to come.