Excerpts from a sermon on the Australia Day weekend.
Over this holiday weekend it is timely to reflect on what it means to be Australian, and especially what it means to us as people of faith.
We can start by acknowledging that the days of privilege are past.
While religious faith continues to be protected and respected in our society, Christianity no longer enjoys the status that it once had. That is especially true of the Anglican Church, as social changes have necessarily meant that our percentage within the total population would decline.
The challenge of the Jewish exiles in ancient Babylon becomes ours as well: How do we sing the Lord’s song in this strange land? But we reframe that slightly, so it becomes: How do we sing the Lord’s song in this ancient and unique place?
How do we express our faith with an Aussie accent, crafting words that come from our experience rather than words borrowed from ancient Palestine or Medieval Europe?
We have much to learn from the oldest continuous human culture on the planet. Yet we rarely pause even to consider what we could learn from them about singing the Lord’s song in this strange and marvellous land.
That is going to change.
The Cathedral will now be working with indigenous theologians to provide a space for what the Revd Lenore Parker, a local indigenous priest and poet, calls ‘big river theology’. I have no idea where that will take us, but I catch a glimpse of it in the art that transforms the Baptistery of this Cathedral Church. For sure we have much to learn about speaking of God in this place and among these people.
As church we seek a unity that goes beyond ethnicity, race, social status or gender. We value those differences, but we refuse to allow them to divide us from one another in the Great South Land.
The full text for this sermon is available online.