Age shall not weary them! This is the familiar phrase written in the Ode; spoken and heard today — Anzac Day. The first two line of the Ode read, They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
Unlike those whom we remember, we gather each year growing ever wearier and wearier; becoming more and more tired in this modern age. Those who were around at the end of the Great War are at least 90 years old. They have been privileged to see many things develop since 1918, and with service personnel from more recent conflicts, together with all of us, we have seen and experienced great changes — but at the expense of weariness.
In fact, our freedom allowing us to become what we are, as country, community, and individuals has led to an increase in weariness. Ironically today our freedom to enjoy living in peace is not giving us as much peace of mind, rest, or as much freedom as we would expect. I suspect many of our fallen sons and daughters, did not give up their lives in battle, so we could go on to oppress ourselves under new masters veiled under the freedom they won for us.
Age shall not weary them, yet in our freedom we have become weary in this age of enjoyment and rights at any cost. We remember them today, but I ask the question, will we honour them with the freedom they won for us, tomorrow, if we continue sacrificing the collective Aussie spirit for individualism’s greed and need to enforce one’s own rights, at any cost?
We remember the sacrifice of Army soldiers, Naval and Air Force service personnel, and rightly so! However, I lay out the challenge to all of us in these days to remember and trust the sacrifice of someone greater than all of these fallen fighters. And that person is Jesus Christ! When we hear his word, remember his supreme sacrifice, and trust his risen presence for salvation, we not only bring glory to God, but we then truly honour those who have fallen for our freedom. It is Jesus Christ together with the Father and the Holy Spirit who truly gives us peace, rest, and hope in freedom. The Triune God who truly empowers the Aussie Spirit, giving us strength to persevere in the weariness of this age.
Written in the Gospel of Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says to you in this weary age, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Unfortunately in this weary age, we chose to turn away from the carrying any yoke, let alone the yoke of Christ. We refuse to make any real sacrifices in the name of freedom, enjoyment and individualistic rights. And because we do, learning, humbleness of heart, and true rest for our souls are lost, and our freedom becomes a burden, and this yoke of freedom weighs us down making us weary.
However it is not all lost! God knows we struggle and always offers a way out to those who trust in him. He speaks to weary souls in Isaiah 40:28-31…
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
As we are left to grow old, age shall not weary them. We remember them! Youths and young men grew tired and weary, they stumbled and fell, for their country, and some for God too. The same tyranny they fought against, for the sake of freedom, is the tyranny hidden in every human heart that make us weary and turns the freedom of the individual into a burden.
Some of our diggers fought knowing the greater battle and victory of Jesus Christ was won at his coronation on the cross and his resurrection from the grave. Some of these men who made the charge at the Anzac Cove, on the fields of France, and in the deserts of Africa, fell knowing Christ. They, together with those of WW2, Korea, Vietnam, those of more recent skirmishes and all who have died believing in Christ for salvation, today share in the victory of the cross as they stand with Jesus;, raised witnesses of his resurrection and his power to raise up all who trust in him.
So as we remember these witnesses, in our weariness, be encouraged by God’s word from Hebrews 12:1-4
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4)
Age shall not weary them. And we struggle in the weariness of this age. But Christ’s blood was shed, and he was raised in power over death to save us from the weariness of this age. Amen.