Psalm 23, John 10:11-18
So to in Vietnam but with the age lifted to 18.
Yesterday a soldier who had been awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan and after being asked if he was fearful in battle replied, yes. But predominately the fear of letting down his mates when under fire.
A statement that was on the lips of those who survived the horrors of Anzac Cove who when retreating did so with a heavy and remorseful heart knowing of the mates they were leaving behind buried in the mud.
A statement of the lips of the soldiers of the South in Gettysburg during the American Civil war. Groups of soldiers, farmers, shop clerks and all parts of society led by a leader they loved and would prefer to die for than give up. Their leader Robert E Lee who did not lead on the basis of slavery or politics, but purely on the basis that he was from the South.
The same man who when in church and noticing a southern slave resume his seat when he realised that the whites were about to take communion, went to him, put out his hand and responded that before God we are all equal.
Gallipoli, a tragedy and a lost battle that helped shape a nation of whose citizens are the only ones of any country in the world that flock in such numbers to a losing battlefield half way around the other side of the world.
I wonder what the Anzacs that lay in those fields would say to those of today who go to pay homage, and I wonder what those who go today would say to those of 1915 in the trenches waiting for the thrill of a whistle that would see them charge into no man’s land and fall next to the fallen.
Yesterday at Anzac Cove Australians, New Zealanders, British and the French remembered those who had fallen in that attack on a foreign land as one, together with those who came to remember those of their own country who saw 80,000 of their own Turkish Brothers fall protecting their homeland.
If we could turn back time what would those of past say of such an outcome and what would those still fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Kenya and the troubled and bloodshed countries of today say if we said the same to them of what may await.
If we could turn back time and visit our parents and tell them it will be O.K. as they see their child in fear and hurt, and would they listen. And if we could turn back time and visit that child and say to yourself it will be O.K., could it have changed anything. And what if it could?
Old foes of the past, now united in death. New foes still apart and those of us saved despite our past and those still walking through the blood and guts of their personal battlefield.
Scattered and lost, United yet alone.
War, trouble and pain cause divisions of those for and against. Fighting for our freedom against the oppressors and the oppressors against those looking to return oppression.
In the book 1984 written by George Orwell in 1949 he saw a future in our time where governments would change from being allies with one country to that of enemies with the stroke of a pen. One minute fighting for a friend then fighting against them and if we look to what’s going on now in the world he’s not far from the truth.
Political bias. Deception, lies, misinformation, greed, individual ties of the past and self- preservation dictating who to die for and who to kill.
A confused world and people not unlike those who cheered Jesus arrival into Jerusalem just as they cheered as he made his way beaten and scourged to the cross. Confusion we suffer not unlike the twelve that followed Jesus only to turn their back and to deny Him.
Jesus who on the cross did not see allies coming to save, but only enemies intent to exclude.
The stone that the builders rejected, who become the cornerstone that those that rejected he, not continue to tear down His house, but be built in it.
The Good Shepherd who before we were formed in the womb, knew us. The Good Shepherd on His cross who when we knew Him not, asks His father to forgive us for we Knew not what we did. And the Good Shepherd that knocks on our door and enters our lives that we may enter into His righteousness and see and know those words of Psalm 23 for ourselves.
See that though we strive for self, in Him we need not want.
See that though we strive in the anguish of worldly goods, fame and happiness, in Him only do we find green pastures and still waters.
See that though we heed to the darkness and strive for perfection and a life without remorse or guilt, find that such a peace of heart can only be of His righteousness freely given.
To see that though our enemies surround us in contempt and rant, in hatred and threatening noise, we hear His whisper comforting our troubled hearts as our cup overflows through His gifts of Baptism and Holy Communion.
And yes, rather that though it seemed a shadow of the valley of death, it was but a road paved in mercy, girded from the wood of a cross and its light not of this world, but that of the light of Christ and see that though we may wonder, our shepherd walks with us that we not need wander of His love for us, but see that the grace that others saw on the cross we too see in ours and know that in Him, that for however it may seem, the Shepherd has guided the lost home, and no matter what may become, because of the love that He maintain, in His house there shall we remain. Amen.