“Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
(1 Peter 3:10-12)
Our ANZAC tradition is something that binds Australia and New Zealand deeply, with our common memory of shared suffering, beginning on the shores of Gallipoli. On both sides of the Tasman Sea, we hold a public holiday to enable all our people to gather together, to pause and to give thanks for the women and men of our armed forces who put their lives at risk to promote the cause of justice and peace.
There is a key Christian person behind the establishment of the contemporary Anzac traditions that we know well – the public holidays, the marches, the badges, the liturgy used at ceremonies. Canon David Garland was an Australian Anglican Priest who had served as a Senior Army Camp Chaplain before the First World War then served in the Middle East from 1918-1919. Both during the War and upon his return to Australia in 1920, he energetically campaigned for the establishment of the kinds of memorials we are now familiar with. New Zealand was the first to establish a public holiday for Anzac Day, with all states in Australia, following by 1927.
Garland had seen the suffering of soldiers and civilians. He had pastorally listened the burdens of those returning from battle. He sought to guide the people “back home” into ceremonies to remember, to give thanks to God and to pause with the purpose of working together for peace. You might consider searching out more of Garland’s story on the internet.
Today, we experience wars in very public arenas like the Ukraine or in often unnoticed places like Tigray, Somalia or Kenya. In our commemorations, we are careful not to glorify war. Rather we turn our faces towards the Prince of Peace making, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Looking to him, we then remember and give thanks for the courage and sacrifice of those who served. We remember lives tragically cut short. We lament over the destruction and suffering caused by war. We ask the Lord, who was born amidst the song of angels proclaiming “peace on earth”, to bring an end to war so that justice would flow for the peoples of the earth.
Lest we forget.
Pastor Paul Smith
Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand
A prayer for Anzac Day Commemoration
Risen Lord and King, Jesus Christ, you laid down your life so that we might live. We remember those who died serving in the armed forces of our nation. Preserve our nation in peace, and in times of war give your people strength and courage to defend the cause of justice even if it may cost us our lives. For you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Other prayer points
- World leaders who have difficult decisions to make regarding national defence and the deployment of service men and women.
- Peace in countries afflicted by war – both in places well-known and places often forgotten.
- Members of the Defence Forces of New Zealand and of Australia
- Families of Defence Force women and men.
- Comfort to those who mourn.
- All who continue to suffer because of war.
- People who provide medical and other health support for victims of war.
- Defence Force Chaplains and other pastoral care workers in the Armed Services.
- Aid organisations which provide support for those suffering various kinds of loss on account of war.
- Those who work to end disputes, to establish peace, and to guide processes of reparation and reconciliation
- The people of the church, to continue with prayerful service to the world, pursuing peace in the Lord’s name.