I started this message on Anzac Day at Scots Church after I had opened the church for the march. Scots is in the marshalling zone and the start of the march is nearby. I cannot bear the thought of having a church with doors closed at that significant time of memory.
Anzac Day is a time when we remember the conflicts and wars that Australia has participated in, as combatant or peacekeeper. Ideally, it is not a time to celebrate or idealise our military, but to remember the cost of war in human terms, much of which is born by our forces. I have frequently written that our primary goal as Christians is to strive to create a small image of the community of divine love, the Kingdom of God, on our street corner in the city. Yet I am pragmatic enough to admit that in our imperfect world, sometimes peace involves limited and reflected use of force. However, that is too complex a topic for a one page message. Violence has a human cost for all parties involved. Anzac Day reminds us of this and the need to care for others.
This year, another time for significant remembering lies close to Anzac Day – Easter. The events around Easter encompass both tragedy and joy, trauma and celebration. Good Friday is a time to remember tragedy and trauma, not just in the life of Jesus who died a horrible death on that day, but in the lives of those who followed him. Those men and women believed that Jesus would bring in a new age. Not only was that trust shattered on Good Friday, but they were in fear that something similar might happen to them. Only a few days after this comes the experience of resurrection, not only for Jesus but also those men and women – joy and celebration that who and what they had believed in lives and shows people God’s way to live in the world, the way of the community of divine love.
There is remembering for each of us too. Each of us has a haystack of memories. Some hold tragedy and trauma, perhaps even to rival those of Anzac Day or Good Friday. Most, however, would be of smaller losses and disappointments, the sort of things that repeated over time may set out life on a certain course, much like a tiny rudder or a small tug can steer a great ship.
Yet for most, if not all, of us, there are memories of joy and celebration, some large but many small – perhaps a memory of a kindness shown, an instance of respect, an event recognising our worthiness, or the experience of simple beauty in a flower, an animal, a sunset. These too can be like a rudder or a tugboat, setting our course through life.
When do we remember them?In the tradition of the church, the weeks before Easter, called Lent, are an opportunity to prepare for Easter by adopting a deliberate reflective practice of some sort.
In like manner, I wonder if the period after Easter, the 50 days culminating in Pentecost, might be given over to remembering joy. In other words, I suggest adopting an Easter practice of joy, at least up until Pentecost (this year, June 9).
Remember those moments of joy and celebration in your life. Make a list of them, if you are the sort of person who makes list. Each day, take time to call to mind, to remember, one item on your list. It may seem small on the grand scheme of things – no matter. You might even repeat the same memory several times – no matter. Just, recall instances of good, recollect occasions of joy in your life.
Take a moment each day to remember the goodness in life, in your life, the places where joy has touched you, where divine love has nestled close to you. Let joy and celebration steer your life. I wonder, where will these memories take you?
May the goodness of God and the hope of life fill you and guide you through this Easter season and beyond.
Rev Dr Peter Trudinger
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