Over the 35 or so years I remember celebrating Anzac Day, it has gone from being a day young people were a bit embarrassed about and middle-aged people were cynical about, to a day almost universally honoured as a chance to acknowledge the sacrifices thousands of New Zealanders made and continue to make in our armed forces. As Christians, we are caught between the desire for peace and the horror of killing on one side, and the knowledge that “greater love has no person than they lay down their life for their friends” on the other. Neville Chamberlain famously said, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.” And yet that cannot take away from the heroism of those who faced enormous loss yet still threw themselves into fighting, as they believed, the sake of their countries or freedoms or – even more heroically – to rescue oppressed people of other lands.
So, as you prepare to decide how to approach Anzac Day, keep a few of these tensions in mind.
How can we reconcile Christ’s calls to peace, with war? Is it something to do with motivation?
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”G.K. Chesterton
While we honour the sacrifice and love of those who have died, is it possible to also suggest ways of peace, and to use Anzac Day as the start of a longer exploration of peace-making? The United Nations resolutions on “A Culture of Peace” include this thought:
There has never been a war without an ‘enemy’, and to abolish war, we must transcend and supersede enemy images with understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures.http://cpnn-world.org/new/?p=10680
Is it even feasible to think of a culture of peace in war-torn lands? The whole documentary, “Soldiers of Peace” would be fascinating to watch with students, but even the trailer could raise some interesting discussion.
Why do situations escalate – and why are the innocent so often the ones who suffer most? For a tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless powerful look at that question, see the short video, “Guntown.”
Shirley Murray wrote a NZ Anzac Hymn, which Colin Gibson set music to. If you want to hear it sung, go here. The lyrics are below:
Honor the dead, our country's fighting brave,
honor our children left in foreign grave,
where poppies blow and sorrow seeds her flowers,
honor the crosses marked forever ours.
Weep for the places ravaged with our blood,
weep for the young bones buried in the mud,
weep for the powers of violence and greed,
weep for the deals done in the name of need.
Honor the brave whose conscience was their call,
answered no bugle, went against the wall,
suffered in prisons of contempt and shame,
branded as cowards, in our country's name.
Weep for the waste of all that might have been,
weep for the cost that war has made obscene,
weep for the homes that ache with human pain,
weep that we ever sanction war again.
Honor the dream for which our nation bled,
held now in trust to justify the dead,
honor their vision on this solemn day:
peace known in freedom, peace the only way.
Words © 2005 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188
Our Archbishops have made a call to prayer, and given us prayers to use.
The following prayers are offered for individuals and bubbles to use as part of this act of remembrance and thanks giving.
He Inoi Maumahara | A Collect for Remembrance
E te Atua aroha,
E maumahara ana mātou ki te hunga kua hinga i te pakanga;
ki a rātou i tū māia ki mua i te mura o te ahi,
ā, i mate ki whenua pāmamao.
Ka tukua tonutia rātou ki ōu ringa,
me tōu atawhai mutungakore.
Titiro atawhai mai ki te hunga e pōuri ana,
kia puawai tōu tūmanako i roto i ō mātou ngākau.
Nā te maumaharatanga ka ora tonu ai rātou ki a mātou;
Nā te whaiwhakaaro ki ngā rau o te riri,
ka piri anō mātou ki te raukura o rongo.
Horahia ki a mātou te rongopai me te rongomau,
āianei, ā, mō ake tonu ai,
God of compassion,
We remember the fallen,
we remember those who stood valiantly in battle,
and those who lost their lives in foreign fields.
Into your hands we commend them,
that they may be surrounded by your grace.
Look kindly upon us who mourn them,
that even in sorrow we might find hope.
For it is by remembering that our loved ones live on,
and in calling to mind the unbearable sacrifices of war,
we become resolute in striving for peace.
May kindness be our portion and peace our eternal refuge,
now and forevermore,
He Inoi mō te Rangimārie | A Collect for Peace
E te Atua Kaha rawa,
Ko koe te waipuna pono, te wai ātarere;
Poua ki roto i a mātou ko te whaakaro nui me te whakaaro pono,
kia ū ai mātou ki te mahi rangatira a te mahi ātawhai,
kia meatia a mātou mahi katoa i runga i te aroha,
kia tipu mātoro ko te āio me te rangimārie ki te ao katoa.
Ko Ihu Karaiti hoki tō mātou Ariki,
You who are the wellspring of peace and truth,
Give us we pray the wisdom and discernment we need,
to be unfailing in our kindness,
to be compassionate in all that we do,
so that peace might flourish throughout all the world.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
If you are simply wanting something that gives young people an introduction to the stories behind Anzac Day, there is a short film designed for use in schools here, and a shorter one made up of conversations with young people about what Anzac Day means to them, here. A great question they’re asked is, “What are you going to do with your freedom?” That could be a chapel-shaper.
Finally, if you want a more hands-on craft approach, try making peace doves, or even an enormous poppy wreath made out of everyone’s fingerprints!