theunfamiliarname

Homily for Easter 4C (ANZAC Day)

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2010 at 8:55 am

They may seem like quite different strands we are trying to hold together,
these Easter days and this ANZAC Day.
But in all honesty, I don’t think they are.

We, this Easter community,
are this day looking at the sacrifices and horrors of the world’s Good Fridays,
be they on Galipoli’s beaches or in Africa or Italy or Vietnam, the Pacific or Iraq,
but viewing them
from beyond the empty tomb of Easter morning.

We do not grieve as those who have no hope.
We are not to live in the darkness of past hurt.
We know that those who have made sacrifice, even to death,
are not forgotten or abandoned or unhonoured by our God.
We are a different kind of people
because of our encounter with the Christ who conquers death.

Like Saul last week upon that road to Damascus,
full of zeal and violence,
we are this day confronted with the Prince of Peace,
and the demands upon our war-torn world.

In the dream-like language of that reading from Revelation,
we are invited to the heavenly vision of eternal peace and praise,
of those who have been through the great ordeal,
who rest and reign with the Lamb that was sacrificed.

In words eerily reminiscent of the famous poem we use on this day,
“They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them, nor  any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide  them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their  eyes.”

The image of God as shepherd, of Jesus as Shepherd,
provides us with comfort,
but also tells us something that might not immediately resonate
with the pictures of shepherds we have in our minds.

Middle Eastern flocks were and are smaller than ours.
Sheep well-known.
And not herded with dogs and a well-paced “get in behind”.
Not a Swandhri in sight…
There it is the sheep’s instinct to follow that is used.
The shepherd walks before the flock.
The sheep aren’t asked to go anywhere the shepherd hasn’t walked before.
“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”

That’s the metaphor.
That’s the Easter image.
Jesus the shepherd, cast in the Book of Revelation as the Lamb.
God in Jesus has travelled the road of the abattoir, of the Cross,
of the trenches and senseless loss and pain.
And still says emphatically of those who follow him,
“no one will snatch them out of my hand”.

In the words of St Paul and of the funeral service:
“nothing in life or death, in the world as is it or in the world as it shall be,
nothing in all creation can separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Do we believe that?  Do we feel we belong?  Do we hear and know that?
Will we re-member that, for ourselves and others?

To we who this ANZAC Day “remember”,
God give recognition, reconciliation and renewed desire
to bring our future to the fullness of God’s just and peaceable Kingdom.  Amen.

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