Hacksaw Ridge I know is an American war movie produced by the Aussie, Mel Gibson. It may not be an Australian war memory as we approach another ANZAC Day but it did make me consider the contribution of brave Aussies who defend and have defended us.
I am not one for barbarity and I am no fan of the gruesome but the movie introduced pictures and emotions that leave me unsurprised by those whose military experience comes with post-traumatic stress. It is my hope that in churches all across our nation people will be praying for those who suffer the grief of those lost in service of our nation, those who suffer the after-effects of military service and for those currently serving in our Defence force. To vets and current servicemen and women we civilians salute you on this special ANZAC day.
Some people may be surprised that in the Anglican Prayer Book there is a special place given to prayer for our armed forces. Christianity has always understood the realities of human sinfulness and the extremes that sinfulness can take. Jesus did say we are to love our enemies and love certainly produces righteous controls when forced to fight. The young medic who is the central actor in Hacksaw Ridge got that balance right when it came to courage and mercy, while many in 2017 seem to lack balance when it comes to war. The Bible makes clear that loving governments are set in place to wield the sword of justice bringing evil to heel. In the days when the 10 Commandments were given war was not unknown to those who first received them. The 7th Commandment was not “You shall not kill” but “You shall not murder”. That is not to suggest that killing is desirable. It is a tragedy of our human condition that wars must be fought and people are killed to stop evil. But it is the murderous evil of some that has made wars and killing inevitable.
Hacksaw Ridge portrayed a war that many today do not know the likes of. Our youth are more familiar with the fighting tactics of the cowardly one punch killer and the cowardice of terrorism. There is no doubt that those who fought at Hacksaw Ridge knew terror but they also knew that they were in a fight that allowed for courage. Terrorism is not looking for a head to head fight but hides itself in one punch moments that murder the innocent and require no courage at all.
ANZAC Day reminds us that morally some wars have to be fought. Everyone must grapple with the issues of a just and moral war and the leaders of our nation need our prayers for wisdom. ANZAC Day reminds us that in every age the reality of human sinfulness can become so deep that its lunacy, its terrorism, its attacks on the best of our humanity must be stopped. ANZAC Day reminds us of the best of men and women in the fight for righteousness. Oh that all Australians would realise that when righteousness is under threat we have no alternative but to fight. The alternative to not fighting is to succumb to evil.
Perhaps this ANZAC Day you could pray the Prayer in the Anglican Prayer Book, Eternal God, the only source of peace, we pray for all who serve us in the Defence forces of this land. Give them courage and comfort in all dangers, and help us, we pray, to seek for all people, the freedom to serve you and each other in peace and justice. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord AMEN.
Armidale Anglican Diocese