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    Remembering Sacrifice

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    This year’s Easter long weekend is particularly long due to Easter coinciding with ANZAC day.

    Australia is sometimes known as the land of the long weekend, but over the years ANZAC day has helped shape a national identity of a different sort; equating courage, discipline, and sacrifice as qualities intrinsically Australian.  It’s a day that reminds us of the sacrifice made by our countrymen and women in years past; and in particular that of those who went to war and didn’t return.

    My grandfather used to tell me the story of fighting along the Kokoda track, the battle at Shaggy ridge; and as a battalion intelligence officer, being a part of the Japanese surrender ceremony at Kendari in the Celebes (now Sulawesi in Indonesia) in 1945 – at which his Japanese counterpart gave my granddad his family Samurai sword as a sign of surrender. (Also my father having fought in 2 wars, and my great grandfather having been in the artillery, may have influenced my decision to join the army at 17!)

    I certainly don’t want to glorify war, but as a country, we do have a history of great sacrifice on the battlefield, and I can’t reflect on ANZAC day, and the sacrifice of men and women who have laid down their lives for the freedom of others, without also thinking about Jesus’ words, “greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”(John 15).

    This is what we remember on ANZAC day; not celebrating war, but remembering and honouring sacrifice.  This is also what we remember at Easter; but on this occasion we also celebrate!  Jesus’ perfect sacrifice – laying down his life for us – restoring us to relationship with God, didn’t come about by treaty or mutual decision, but by taking our sin upon Himself.

    For those of us in Christ, this is the most amazing news!  Once we were dead in our transgressions, but now we’re alive in Jesus!  He died in our place, and rose again to take the place of glory at the right hand of the Father.  So, this extended long weekend, as you eat hot cross buns, consume chocolate, participate in church services, or wake up early for a dawn service, remember the ultimate sacrifice… God’s son.