I have been approached to provide some resources for congregation on ANZAC day. I started with the People’s Book of ‘Uniting in Worship’ (references below), then went wider to ecumenical sites.
I conclude with prayers and poems.
Thinking about materials that are ready to hand: I have looked at the blue Peoples Book of UiW (1988 version). The suggestions below come from the ‘Blue Book’.
pages 182-184: A Litany for World Peace;
prayer 35: ‘An Instrument of God’s Peace (UiW, p. 228);
Or 2. Page 168: ‘A Litany of Invocation’.
page 133: 11. ‘Your Kingdom Come’: Social Justice Affirmation;
And. on page 172: the first section of 4 .‘A Litany of General Intercession 1’.
Prayer 4: ‘Abiding in God’, UiW p.213;
prayer 56: ‘A Rolling Brown Land’, UiW p. 240.
A traditional prayer: UiW p. 238 –prayer 52. ‘For the Peace which the World Cannot Give;’
You might look at the hymns in the Together in Song 600s – there are some strong notes on peacemaking and hospitality.(see below for Catholic Resources) . See resources from Uniting Justice .
There were minutes of the Assembly in the 1980s which have a very strong claim on the role of Christians as peacemakers.
And thinking of ANZAC reflections on who we are called to be: what about the Statement to the Nation (from the First Assembly: I think that might be in the Theology for a Pilgrim People – if not, then in the minutes.
Pastoral resources for those who have experienced the trauma, death and grief of war would be invaluable. It strikes me that the dates of ANZAC Say and Easter Day are not all that distant from each other.
Congregations might be encouraged to recall that this national ANZAC day falls within the Easter season. With that focus, the Fourth Gospel (John 20) recalls that the risen Lord comes to his friends as the crucified One, bearing wounds, and ‘breathes’ on them and gives the ‘peace’; then declares ‘As I have been sent, so I am sending you’.
For those who want to explore the issue further: ‘Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, What’s Wrong with ANZAC?: What’s Wrong With Anzac? The Militarisation Of Australian History
Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds , $29.95 – Paperback book / New South Books
The World Council of Churches will have resources for peace , as does the Catholic church:
Library of Catholic prayers on perseverance, peace, love, devotion, and many more topics. Offers prayers in French, Latin, Spanish and English.
Prayer for Refugees and Victims of War
no one is a stranger to you
and no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness, watch over refugees and victims of war,
those separated from their loved ones,
young people who are lost,
and those who have left home or who have run away from
Bring them back safely to the place where they long to be
and help us always to show your kindness
to strangers and to all in need
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
It seems to me that on ANZAC day we are being called to regard the country and to be shaped by our activity of military conflict (so-called defence) in the past as a way into the future.
The Christian faith goes about it in the opposite way: God in Jesus Christ gives us the gift of the future. and therefore the present calling to be makers of peace –our primary calling is to pray (long) for peace, and that is what we have to offer to our fellow Australians.
There is poetry of course:
On Flanders Fileds is the poem made use of in ANZAC ceremonies:
In most ceremonies of remembrance there is a reading of an appropriate poem designed to help the listener understand the experiences of service people and their relatives in wartime.
In Flanders fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae (1872–1918)
Against that is Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est:
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
The World Council; of Churches:
Peace be with you: an Easter message to East and West
The pure gift of peace, meant to be shared freely as a blessing from God, is the theme of an Easter 2012 reflection by the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). This word of encouragement to “all churches that are part of the fellowship of the World Council of Churches” was released on 13 April, during the week spanning many churches’ celebration of Easter according to the Gregorian calendar and other churches’ observance of Easter according to the Julian calendar. Despite ample evidence of division in the world around us, Tveit quotes Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in promising that WCC member churches “are eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Text of Easter letter
Wes Campbell (Revd Dr)
Chaplain, University of Melbourne
Uniting Church Minister
Chaplaincy address: Level 1/138 Cardigan St Carlton VIC 3053
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