Anzac Day is a day to reflect.
It’s a day when we remember those who said farewell to family and friends and bravely marched off to war to safeguard our freedom. Those were tearful farewells! Raw emotions rose to the surface, lubricating that (often final) contact between loved ones.
It can be extremely difficult to say farewell to family and friends! What can one say that is capable of effectively communicating true depth of feelings?
One guy managed to make a real mess of it when a work colleague was being farewelled upon his transfer to another city. On the farewell card he wrote: “’No matter how far away you move, you’ll always be a dear friend several of us think about sometimes.”
But that wasn’t quite as bad as another co-worker who wrote: ”We’re really going to miss trying to avoid you around here. Good bye and Good luck!”
When it comes to farewells, I hope we would feel more like Snoopy who said to Charlie Brown one day: ”Why can’t we get all the people together in the world that we really like, and then just stay together?” Then, rather ruefully, he continued: “I guess that wouldn’t work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye.” He sighed deeply before continuing: “I hate good-byes. What I need are more hellos.”
Interestingly, none other than Winnie the Pooh managed to get it just right when he told his friends: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Yes, saying goodbye is never easy when you’ve developed strong bonds of love and concern for the people to whom you’re saying goodbye.
And now it’s time for us to say goodbye – to the beautiful people of Norfolk Island. Though we’ve been here for just four months, we‘ve been swept into the life of the church and community with openness and enthusiasm. New and strong friendships have evolved, so we’re leaving with emotions well-lubricated, recalling the words of Paul to the church in Thessalonica: “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well.”
This has been wonderfully reciprocated on Norfolk Island! And perhaps one day we’ll return to say ‘hello’!
You know, when Jesus was raised to life by his Heavenly Father, he appeared many times to his disciples and closest followers. Once their shock had dissipated and they’d successfully processed this miraculous development in mind and heart, they became the catalyst God needed to spread the amazing message of his power and grace throughout the world. The love these first Christians displayed for their Lord, the people around them and for each other impressed the Roman Emperor Constantine so much that he himself embraced the Christian faith. From there, the message of the love of God swept the world like wildfire. And changed it!
This is the legacy we’ve inherited. When our diggers farewelled family and friends and headed off to war, many never returned to say ‘hello’.
But when the followers of Jesus farewelled their teacher and friend as he hung dying on that cruel cross, little did they realise that he would be saying ‘hello’ within the space of a couple of days. Tears of grief quickly morphed into tears of joy at the reality of the resurrection, as God released his gift of forgiveness, healing and freedom into theirs, and our, lives.