Am I the only one who is complaining about the lateness of Easter this year?
An eleven-week school term and then an Easter celebration at the end of the school holidays seems rather weird. In fact Easter 2011 is being celebrated in the western tradition on the latest day in nearly 70 years – the last late date was Easter Day 25th April 1943. This year in Australia Easter is followed the very next day by Anzac Day. Though inconvenient in a number of ways, the seemingly divergent messages of Easter and Anzac Day may actually have a great deal in common.
To be honest it is tempting to attempt to draw the parallels:
· Both are celebrations of sacrifice over selfishness
· Both appall us by their waste and injustice
· Both remind us that defeat is not always final
· Both speak of a desire to pay a price for freedom
· Both give hope and provide us with identity
But they are different and deserve to be kept so.
Anzac Day is at best a national commemoration and remembrance of war. It can remind us of the pain of the past. It can give a chance for old comrades to gather and remember those who paid the ultimate price. But we need to beware when politicians or clubs turn commemorations into days of national pride. So easily a commemoration can become a victory march. So quickly we can forget that killing in war is never noble and is rarely just. National celebrations of war rarely question the motives of political leaders, the tactics of generals, or the morals of soldiers. Remembering is essential. But national memorials can so easily leave us feeling that someone else always causes the evils of the world. When our freedom is defined only as victory over an enemy, we fail to see the enemy within that poses, at times, an even greater threat.
Easter challenges us to remember the injustices that led to the crucifixion of an innocent man and then forces us to face our own sin and guilt. Easter highlights the battle between man and God, when God allows men to have their way. The crucified Jesus makes us weep even more when we see that He bore the sins of all the world – including our own. Easter exposes the folly that nations and people can save themselves. Easter stamps us all with the failure of crucifixion, calls us to repent and then offers us the hope of resurrection. Easter leaves us with nothing to celebrate in our own strength, but points us to a God whose holiness, justice and mercy know no bounds.
Easter offers freedom from our greatest threats and our most ferocious of enemies - sin and death.
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23: 34