Because ANZAC Day fell on a Sunday this year, I was only able to participate in a few events surrounding the holiday. I was invited to a traditional dawn service by the Grittens' (Ray's dad fought in WWI) in his hometown about an hour away. There are lots of services and programs throughout the day, but the dawn service is special because it was dawn when the ANZACS landed in Gallipoli. We woke up at 3:30 am (I know!) and made it to Wangi for the 5:00 am service. Despite the steady rain, the indoor service was packed! There was a group of sailors from the Navy there, as well as veterans and their families. Many veterans were wearing their military medals and awards on their clothes. The service started with a prayer, and then a man gave an account of what happened on April 25, 1915. Following the recitation, the "Last Post" was played and we had a long period of silence. After the service, a huge breakfast was served for everyone who attended. Unfortunately for us, we had to eat and run to make it back to Gosford in time for worship.
Monday after ANZAC Day was a public holiday because the actual date fell on a Sunday. It is tradition among the churches of Christ in Sydney, and the surrounding regions of the Central Coast (which is where I live) and Newcastle, to get together for a picnic. People started arriving at the Pavillion in Aubury at 10 am. By lunchtime, there were over 130 Christians there enjoying fellowship and food. After lunch, we had a time of singing and sharing. This is probably the biggest group of Christians I have sung and worshipped with since I have been in Australia. To our standards in the States, 130 people isn't a big gathering of Christians, but here it is huge! Hearing all of these voices singing, "A Common Love" brought tears to my eyes. Every few songs, a representative from each congregation would stand up and share what was going on there. It was so exciting and encouraging to hear all the ways God's people were working in so many different areas in their own communities. The entire ANZAC Day weekend was a blessing!