I turn on the radio and tune in to a news channel, then another and another, but all of them, the TV channels too, are covering the same story- ANZAC Day, 25th April. This is the Australian and New Zealand equivalent of what in the United Kingdom is ‘Remembrance Day’ on November the 11th.
It is important we have Anzac Day, because it is the time we remember and give thanks for those who fought for us, particularly in the two 20th century world wars from the poppies of Flanders’ fields to the sands of Dunkirk shore. Those who fought at life’s sacrifice (my uncles), or the cost of wounded lives for many (my grandfather and father)- battles mark left few unscarred. They fought under the same flag for our freedom, and for a way of life they cherished even though so many were never to enjoy that life again.
However, there is an important but little remarked fact about that flag, whether the Union Flag of the British Empire or the Australian Flag of which the Union Flag forms a prominent part. It is comprised of the flags of St Patrick, St George and St Andrew and their crosses. That is, the flag under which the fallen and the wounded fought is a Christian flag. To this we can add the fact that the graves of the fallen at sites from Gallipoli in Turkey to Adelaide River in the Northern Territory, from Flanders Fields to Papua New Guinea are in vast majority marked with a Cross, the Cross of Christ.
Those whom we remember on ANZAC DAY fought for a way of life that was a bible shaped way of life (95% of those who fought at Gallipoli in World War 2 were church members and attenders). This way of life was conditioned, even if often subconsciously, by a Biblical world view with its common and shared understanding of what was right and what was wrong, with its community-accepted values anchored in the very nature of God Himself.
So what would they think if they looked around at Australian society today and saw the deliberate, now militant, de-Christianization of society and its value system? Could it be as they saw the ongoing attack on the faith that strengthened their resolve, the faith that was emblazoned on the flag under which they fought, and in an exquisitely tragic irony Cross-marks their graves, that they might be tempted to say “Yes we won the war but we have lost the peace”?
As a mark of this, another straw blowing in the winds of the pagan darkness sweeping the land, we might contrast the massive effort put into ANZAC DAY, the almost blanket but Christianity-Lite media coverage, the hundreds of thousands of people turning out for the events, with the coverage of another event of sacrifice that took place nine days before. I refer of course to Easter Day about which I blogged (see ‘Resurrection and the Outbreak of War) that-
“The greatest event in history only rated the twelfth item in the news headlines” and that “The news reader (actually) felt it necessary to explain the meaning of Easter day to the national audience”
Those who fought for us, and whose sacrifice we rightly remember on ANZAC Day, could not have even conceived of a time when remembrance of their sacrifice consumed the nation and while the remembrance of the death and resurrection of Christ the founder of their faith was but a faint and diminishing shadow, like the residual smile on Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat.
So what for us, those who still have the faith of those who fought for us? These straws blowing in the gale of social change are a reason and a warning. A reason for the moral and spiritual degradation of that increasingly God-evacuated society and its fragmentation into a kaleidoscope of fundamentally pagan tribes. It is a warning to those of us who still name the name of Christ, that our now enfeebled church must be revitalized or die, that we need to exert much greater and sacrificially costly effort in the proclamation of Christ to the lost. Indeed, the only way for the pagan tide to be turned is for a great mission to be initiated, one that will permeate society with thousands of new missional communities, the society that will never come along to our Sunday Christendom style services.
We must indeed remember and give thanks for those who sacrificed so much for us, BUT our faith and our mission is based on a much greater and eternal sacrifice, a sacrifice that was actually made for a society that has lost its soul.