Many theories have been espoused, such as, with the ever-changing multi-cultured nature of our society and the less certainly about what it is to be an Australian, ANZAC day offers an opportunity to ask questions about who and what we are. There are many other ideas shared.
Another observation worth pondering is that with the passing of time we are getting to the end of that era when there remain very few returned soldiers alive. This is the time we must collect and collate the stories of the living witnesses. And there have been a lot of stories told over recent times, from personal family stories through to major movies etc.
How we tell these stories varies greatly. There is no one official account for the implication of the wars on history and the lives of the men, women and children are without number. There will be a time in a few years when a new set of writers will review the past century of ANZAC and write eloquently and imaginatively of its central message and long term implication.
I have shared this reflection because it brings to mind a similar happening 2000 years ago. After Jesus died and rose again the disciples gathered his followers, shared the stories and welcomed new members. The years past and a concern developed with the gradual dieing of eye witnesses to Jesus life. It was the motivation that led to the writing of the gospels. They realized the importance of the written record of their collective memories.
Marks gospel was the first probably about 70 AD. Matthew and Luke followed and finally the writing of John. The understanding of history has suggested that John lived to be an old man. He, in turn had his own disciples with whom he lived in a community. They naturally learnt from John particularly through his very close and affectionate friendship with Jesus. He proved to be one of the last eye witnesses of Jesus life.
The Book of Revelations is attributed to John. This is difficult to verify for it was a common practice of the times to attribute writings to notable people, more so to indicate that the writings reflected the thinking of the supposed author rather than actual proof of writing.
Revelations was written around the turn of the first century AD, give or take some time, but virtually when all those who knew Jesus personally had passed on.
As I was earlier postulating, a newer form of writing will possibly emerge with ANZAC to make sense of it and its impact upon our society. This would fit the understanding of the writing of the book of Revelations. Johns disciples now living with a similar approach to his faith as he did, collated and presented the essence of his teaching.
THE ESSENTIAL MESSAGE
At various points of past Jewish history a special type of writing known as apocryphal was used. It speaks in imaginative symbols and fanciful story lines to inspire its readers to emulate the message of hope. It was not necessarily regarded as factual history. This was the style of writing the writer of the book of Revelations employed.
The essential message was two fold. On the one hand seventy years after the life of Jesus his followers were totally convinced that he was the Lord of creation. On the other hand the implication was that his victory won at Easter would lead to the ultimate victory of God over all creation. It was symbolized in the declaration of a new heaven and a new earth, the new Jerusalem.
Revelation is a difficult book to read because people love the detail in the same way that people love the gossip. When you gossip you fall right away from the real truth. If you turn the writings into a history book you turn God into an Ogre, not the Lord of Love for his creation.
In the season of Easter we usually include readings from Revelations. It is the final book of the bible. We could say it has the final word. God is sovereign. His victorious Easter purposes will be fulfilled. In the face of challenging persecution it was written to convey a wonderful message of encouragement for the early Christians who had never personally met Jesus but had embraced his gospel. We can similarly welcome this message of assurance.