Tomorrow, beginning with Dawn Parades, New Zealanders will demonstrate for half a day that we can, after all, tolerate religion in our lives. We’ll stand in silence, we’ll mumble the words to old hymns, we’ll bow our heads respectfully while someone in a robe prays. There will be speeches and some terrible poetry. We’ll be moved by memory. We’ll meet across the generations. We’ll be glad we were there.
Anzac day is a national day of remembering sacrifice. It honours bravery and camaraderie and the belief that some things are, in fact, precious enough to die for. It’s more popular now than ever. I suspect that it’s popular because so many of the qualities it stands for are absent from our lives. We admire them, but we do not possess them. We long to know how we, too, can be brave, sacrificial, and united in comradeship in an earnest struggle for something a little more meaningful than a down-payment on an LCD TV.
For those who can openly acknowledge that desire, Christ offers fulfilment. Not only does he set the pattern of self-sacrifice, he then comes to us and empowers us to join with him – in a camaraderie that can include anyone – in making that sacrifice effective in a world that desperately needs the light he holds out.