Tuesday, April 27, 2004

lest we forget

Sermon from Sunday; titled lest we forget, a reflection on Anzac Day (Remembrance Day: headings include


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Today is Anzac Day. April 25.
All around New Zealand sleepy Kiwis will have dragged themselves out of their cosy nest of blankets for the dawn parade.

Anzac Day used to be old fashioned, a dying memorial for the dead.

Today it’s increasingly popular

and many teenagers will pace at the front of the parade.

Today we as New Zealanders have gathered from Hamilton to Hokitika, from Clevedon to Christchurch.
A lonely trumpet has split the dawn. Wreaths have be wrapped around cold concrete memorials. Speechs have been made. Veterans have returned to the RSA to yarn and remember.

Lest we forget.

Many people believe that Anzac Day gave New Zealand the 21st keys to nationhood. Soldiers went as the boys from Taihape, Clive or Ashburton. They returned as New Zealanders.

Something happened at Gallipoli that made us a nation.

To use the words of 1 Peter, once we who were no people, a few boys from Taihape or Clive, now we have become 1 people.

Perhaps it was the fact that war touched almost everyone. 1 in 17 New Zealanders died or was wounded in WW1. Everyone in NZ would have known a grieving mother or a dead father.

Perhaps, it was that sense of participation. Mate with mate in the trenches and fighting. Us as a nation standing with England. Values of solidarity and loyalty and courage under fire.

And so we, NZ, became one nation through shared sacrifice.
Gathering together as a whole community to grieve, to remember.

Lest we forget.

Anzac Day. Today.
A day when New Zealand gains identity,
becomes one people,
through shared sacrifice.

1 Peter 2:10
At one time you were not God’s people
but now you are God’s people.
at one time you did not know God’s mercy
but now you have received God’s mercy.

And so the church,
the people of God,
us here at Opawa Baptist,
gain identity,
become one people, through shared sacrifice.

1 Peter is written to, as in says in chapter 1, 1 –
refugees scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.

It’s a huge area.

1 Peter is written to a diverse group across this huge area.

How do you create one people?
How do you create one people among refugees, scattered across a vast space?

Peter reminds remind them of their roots,
At one time you were not God’s people
but now you are God’s people.
at one time you did not know God’s mercy
but now you have received God’s mercy.

1 Peter is written to a primarily Jewish group of refugees . We see that in 1 Peter 2:9
But you are the chosen race, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, God’s own people.

These are very Jewish words.
To a bunch of scattered refugees, aware of Jewish concepts of chosen and royal priesthood and holy nation.
Peter reminds them. At one time you were not God’s people, but now you are God’s people.

This is your past. It is important. To this past you must add the mercy of God and the sacrifice of Jesus.

And so the church, the people of God,
gain identity,
become one people,
through shared sacrifice.

How do you create one people among refugees, scattered across a vast space?
To use words and concepts from Maori culture,
you remind them of their whakapapa, their identity.
that they are one people because of God’s mercy.

Because of sacrifice,
the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we are one people. Lest we forget.

Our identity as a church, as Opawa Baptist, as God’s people, is sourced in the mercy of God.
We are like the Anzacs, identity through shared sacrifice. Lest we forget.

3 practical ways this needs to affect our life.

Firstly, this needs to affect our unity.
We as a church can be united around the mercy of God and the shared sacrifice of Jesus.

Maori culture has a proverb; i nga ra o mua.
It means “to walk forward looking back”.

We walk forward as individuals because of our roots.
We walk forward as a church because of our roots, the mercy of God, the sacrifice of Jesus.

It is one of the reasons communion is so important.
Communion, the sharing of bread and cup, unifies us.
It is a time to share, to remember our common identity, our unity in Jesus.

Lest we forget, that affects our unity.

Secondly, this needs to affect the depth of our Christian spirituality.
As Gordon Coombs and Bob Thompson showed us, deep roots in God and deep roots in the Scriptures are the basis for mission.

We live in a superficial culture.
We are forever being offered new programmes or new techniques.
Both inside and outside the church.

1 Peter reminds us that we have deep roots to our Christian spirituality.

I love the scene from the movie Whale Rider, where the grumpy grandfather speaks of the way the past weaves into the present. Our Christian spirituality needs deep roots, in Scripture, in the life of the church


Our Christian spirituality is about re-weaving the broken threads. It is about us weaving ourselves into ancient patterns of Scripture reading, Christian fellowship. It is about us aligning ourselves with the ancient story of Jesus and the church of God.

Anzac Day, 1 Peter, asks us to go deep in our Christian spirituality.

Thirdly, lest we forget needs to affect our mission.
Why would Amy Hay go and work for WYT?
Why would Peter and Joyce Majendie wheelbarrow 7 tonnes of sand in and out of this building?
Why does Gordon Sparrow teach 11 Bible in School classes each week, over 300 kids?

Anzac Day, 1 Peter give us a reason.
Lest we forget. Lest we forget the mercy of God.

We are involved in mission,
we share of the mercy of God,
because we ourselves have experienced the mercy of God.

Our mission needs to emerge from the mercy of God to us.

Lest we forget.

Opawa is re-emerging.
I am planning a newcomers get-together,
new people who have become regular in the last two months.
I counted off 14 adults and 5 kids I could invite.
19 newcomers in 2 months.

God is at work in our church.
I want our re-emerging,
our growth, our future, to be because of our roots.

Our identity,
our deep Christian spirituality,
our mission,
sourced, rooted, in the mercy of God and the sacrifice of Jesus.

Greater love has no one than this, they lay down their life for their friends. John 15:13

Lest we forget.

Posted by steve at 01:03 PM


  1. Very good Steve. I like and value the different ways we both approach sermons…I continue to learn a lot from your approach. 🙂

    Comment by Paul Fromont — April 27, 2004 @ 1:37 pm

  2. Anzac Day is such a significant day in the culture and life of both Australia and New Zealand, I was looking through blogs to find a reference to it – feeling something was missing without it.

    The sermon at our church (in Australia) was also entitled Lest we Forget – good words for a title…

    I woke up in the morning, and joined (via the Radio) with the Dawn service in the National Capital – and remembered the absolutely FROZEN Anzac Day mornings in Invercargill when my husband would jog up to the cenotaph with one or more of my (then very young) children in a pram for the Dawn Service. This born & bred Aussie remained in bed – it was too much to contemplate joining them!!!


    Comment by Janet — April 27, 2004 @ 8:02 pm

  3. Our local secondary schools have a speech competition, with the winner speaking at the local dawn service. This year the head boy at my school won, and THIS is his speech. I’ve read these speeches each year, and it seems to me too that there’s a growing awareness of what it meant to go to war (remembering that the ones who win are the more literate and thoughtful students, of course).
    Thanks for that Steve, it has resonance..

    Comment by Larraine — April 27, 2004 @ 10:09 pm

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