Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ANZAC day 2013

For ANZAC day this year I was asked, in my Lay Ministry role, to give a talk, blessings and prayer on 'ANZAC day' at the Kingswood Rest Home in Matamata specializing in the 24 hour care of people who have been assessed as requiring Stage 2 or 3 Dementia Care.

I visited there on the Wednesday before and met some of the residents and became familiar with who I would be talking to.
I was asked to keep it short as some could only have an attention span of about 20 seconds. So I started with the words below, appreviating it if I felt the need to do so.

However they were all very attentive and so I didn't reduce it by much at all.

I started with the verses from Matthew that I have highlighted in yellow.

Some verses from Matthew 5:1-12

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We are not a perfect society, there are many areas of life where things could be better, but the basic freedoms we have ensure that we can look to our future with hope.

Today is Anzac day which calls to mind another aspect of life in New Zealand that I am thankful for.  I have never had to face some of the difficult decisions of older generations:  particularly the decision to go to war.  The point I am making is that younger generations have a different viewpoint on commemorations such as Anzac day because we have no personal memory of the wars of the 20th century.

While April the 25th was originally set aside to remember the events of Gallipoli during World War 1, our understanding of Anzac Day has expanded to include all wars where New Zealand and Australia soldiers fought and died.  The remembering of the sacrifices of our soldiers is an essential aspect of Anzac day but is not limited to that.  

We are very fortunate to live in New Zealand at this time. New Zealand is a very special place and we are truly blessed. Not only is it a beautiful country, we are free from war, invading nations and are considered a safe land.

Anzac day is an opportunity to reflect on the overall impact of war.
The remembering of the sacrifices of our soldiers.
We remember those who served in the armed forces who have now passed on but are thankful they returned home.
We also think of the families who lost loved ones, for those who had to wait at home hoping for the best.
We think of the places where war destroyed communities and took innocent life.
All of these ideas are summarised in the words, lest we forget.

 ♥Lest we forget these brave soldiers going into war just to protect our freedom ♥
 ♥ risking their own lives for the sake of others back home, ♥
 ♥you all brave soldiers are in our hearts and never forgotten ♥

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

God bless them all.

I followed with Let us pray

Father God, We thank You that we have this day to remember the impact of War.
We ask that You be with all those in our forces who are still involved in military activities.
Protect them as they do their tasks.
We pray for peace and understanding for all.

Then I followed with grace.
Thank You for this day here with family and friends.
Thank You for this wonderful food we are about to share.
We ask You to bless it and especially those who have prepared it.
Bless us all this day and always in the name of Jesus Christ.

These people may be suffering from dementia but they certainly didn't forget the words 'lest we forget'
When I had finished my little thoughts on Anzac day with those three words, there was an echo around the room as the men mainly, all repeated "lest we forget"
I felt so touched and realised how much of a privilege it was to share this day with them.

After I had said a grace we all shared a meal of finger food.

Before I left I went and said good bye to each resident as I was so touched to be with them all that day.

All scripture is taken from New International Version 1984  

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