Jesus and Anzac

I’m just back from a half-day’s Anzac Day commemoration here in Cooma. Part 1 – the Anzac Service at the Cooma Cenotaph. Part 2 – the semi-formal lunch at the Cooma Ex-Serviceman’s Club, complete with post-lunch two-up in the presence of a passive and smiling police inspector. Another welcome cultural experience for this still fairly green country town pastor.

It was my lot to be the ‘Anzac Chaplain’ for 2014. This consisted of delivering the ‘Anzac Oration’ during the service, and saying grace before the subsequent lunch .. oh, and a seat at the high table too.

Some random reflections …

  • probably about 1000 attended the service. Not too shabby in a town of 8000. A fine opportunity for further public exposure, which is pretty important in rural ministry.
  • a privilege to address the Anzac theme so closely in the shadow of Easter. Gold, when one considers the shrinking scope for pointing largely non-church Australians to the gospel of Jesus in a public way. Praying that some people were given cause to consider Jesus as the preeminent exemplar of humility and self-giving in his Cross.
  • thankful that in a country community the church and clergy are still at some level embraced as central to the community. For how much longer? Who knows … but may we use the resulting opportunities, such as this one, well.
  • perplexed by christendom’s death throes. ‘Chaplain’ kind of says it really. That and the fact that the traditional RSL Anzac service is basically a liturgy of Christian hymns and prayers (albeit with a little doubtful theology here and there), but in language Christians don’t use anymore and with the ‘chaplain’ as an invited guest for a single part. Not whinging at the latter, please understand, but certainly much pondering.
  • wondering … Is there a possibility of recovering a more central role in this event (given it’s tacitly ‘Christian’ nature)? Or is it better to let it gradually die and seek other entry points?

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