Saturday, April 25, 2015

ANZAC Thoughts 2015

Sitting on my deck at dawn I can hear the sounds of the Dawn Parade from the Queen's
Gardens, barely a kilometre or so away.  

I gave my attendance last night at the ANZAC Eve service in the Cathedral where our Bishop and representatives from other churches joined with us in a very simple service that was reasonably well attended.   

In preparing the liturgy the challenge was how to differentiate this observance from other years without sliding into clich√© or mawkishness. So the bidding or call to worship had to be carefully poised for everything that was to follow.  This seemed to work:

We gather here this evening to offer to God our worship and praise; to remember before God all who laid down their lives in war; and especially, in this Centenary of ANZAC, all those from Otago and Southland who fell in the Gallipoli Campaign.   This is the evening before the ANZAC story comes to be written; the night before such names as Quinn’s Post, Otago Gully, Bauchop’s Hill and Chunuk Bair will be etched in our nation’s story.   So, as one hundred years ago warships bearing our troops rolled in the swell off a darkened coast, tonight we remember the cost of this conflict and promise, as far as in us lies, that the evil of war shall not be again.

317 candles for Dunedin's Gallipoli fallen
Using, as is our custom, the Coventry litany of reconciliation we then lit 317 candles, each representing one of those from Dunedin who fell in the Gallipoli campaign.  Taking the light from the Paschal (Easter) candle - it was quite a task for the five of us to light them all.  The choir's anthem 'So they gave their bodies' had long finished and still there were more candles to be lit.  The silence and the solemnity that encompassed us throughout these minutes of lighting was compelling.  Each was a life ... and, dear God, there were so many!

Beneath the Cathedral's Great War Memorial Window, which carries also the emblems of every Otago and Southland unit that served in the Great War, we held the entire region of the diocese in prayer and throughout the Last Post and Reveille remembered all those communities and their memorials to their lost.

I had hoped to receive images of memorials from throughout Otago and Southland that could be mounted on display but only a handful were received in time.  However I was grateful to receive those, they helped anchor the regional spirit of the service and were powerful reminders of the reality that people throughout Southland and Otago had endured.

Church Rolls of Honour are one example of that reality. Below one can see the very impressive stone memorial from St Paul's Presbyterian Church, Invercargill and, below that the elegant wooden memorial from the Presbyterian Church in Wanaka.
St Paul's Presbyterian Church Invercargill
Presbyterian Church, Wanaka

What strikes me about both these memorials is the extraordinary number of names recorded from those communities.

Then there is the lychgate at St Mary's Anglican Church in Mornington.   This is not a WW1 memorial but belongs to WW2 and was built as a memorial for a parishioner's 4 sons killed in that conflict.  I can't quite bring myself to even imagine that kind of loss.

Lychgate St Mary's Mornington

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