Sunday, April 25, 2010


ANZAC Day is a day of honouring and remembering. What are we honouring and remembering? We honour and remember those who fought and died for freedom and justice: those who gave their lives in the cause of peace.

What is peace? Is peace merely a ceasefire? Is peace merely the time between wars? No! True and lasting peace, at least for the individual, only comes when you have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.

It’s been said that there’re no Atheists in the foxholes of war! If this were the case, then those who fought and died for peace, the type of peace we enjoy in Australia, had already made their peace with God.

There was a true story in a magazine not many years ago about a man who would talk to the soldiers boarding troop ships at the start of WWII. He wanted to make sure that these young men were right with God before putting their very lives into harm’s way. He would ask them awkward questions like: “What will happen to you if you die?” He would say things like, “Don’t trust in yourself or your own perceived goodness to get you into heaven, but make your peace with God through Jesus Christ. Trust only in Jesus.”

After the war this mystery man was tracked down by not a few who had survived the carnage. These brave men wanted to thank him for caring for their souls, for preparing them for their baptisms of fire. For when they participated in the hellfire of war, and had smelled the unmistakeable stench of death in their nostrils, death that clings like a thousand leeches sucking your very life’s-blood, death that covers you like a cold and wet blanket, as a black shroud — they had remembered what he had said to them. It was then that they had earnestly made their peace with God through Jesus Christ!

The Scripture says, “You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces.” Many, far too many, good trees have been cut down even in their prime — defending freedom and justice. May no Australian take for granted the good fruit that came from those good trees — many of whom, too many of whom, lost their lives.

What is that good fruit? Some of the good fruit is that in Australia, she that holds the sword in one hand and the weigh-scales in the other, even Lady Justice, still wears a blindfold! Our justice system is based on the Ten Commandments, summarised in Jesus’ command to love God and your neighbour as yourself. Or, as translated into the language of the Australian Defence Force: “Mateship!”

The good fruit is the freedom we enjoy in our nation — in our home girt by sea, “The Lucky Country.” The good fruit they gave us is the peace we enjoy in this great land that “abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and fair.” Fellow Aussies, all we have was purchased at a great price, a very great price!

Australians and New Zealanders, the ANZACS, fought shoulder to shoulder and bled their blood together at Gallipoli and elsewhere. We gained our identity as a nation at Anzac Cove during the Great War. Australia, “we are young and free!”

I’m proud to serve with men and women who hold with me the same ideals. I’m proud to serve with those who believe in the freedom ideal: freedom from foreign aggression: freedom for all law-abiding citizens, freedom to raise our families in peace. I’m proud to serve with those who believe in the justice ideal: the rule of law, ie, justice for all, rich or poor, young and old, male or female. A fair go.

This morning as we stand or sit beneath the Southern Cross, the cross that is emblazed on our nation’s flag, may we never forget the pain and the anguish, the blood and the sweat, the tears and the toil of all those who gave their very lives to advance Australia fair.

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