Just a few words to keep in touch. It’s not enough, but life gets so busy and it’s so easy to get distracted by trivialities that seem so important - at the time. Promised to talk every day - sorry for being a bit of a failure there. Will try harder - must spend more quiet time away from the tv, the shops, the cricket and the tennis.
We’ve had a bad time with the bush fires. Three people dead, many homes burnt out. It’s been heart breaking for all involved. And close to home too. Not that that matters - because they are all your children. Whether it’s someone we don’t know, or a member of our own family.
We pray for all those affected by the fires - for the fire-fighter Trevor Day who died when his fire truck rolled, and for Zeke Wilson and his father, who were killed in their car after it struck a tree and was overtaken by fire at the Grampians. We pray for their families, whose lives have been irrevocably altered by flame. Stay close to them, and support them in their time of loss. May the Holy Spirit bring new breath to their lives and help them go forward as best they can.
Estimated stock losses are around seventy thousand. But the real death toll is of course in the millions. You alone can count each individual created, you alone know of the life and death of all creatures. It is beyond even our imagination.
We pray that better and safer means of controlling, extinguishing and preventing bushfires will be found to safeguard human lives, homes, and the lives of the other creatures with whom we share your creation. And we give thanks for all fire fighters who put their lives in your hands at each fire, working with whatever they have. We pray for their safety, and their health.
We celebrated Australia Day on Thursday. Lots of families hit the beach, others relaxed with the barbeque - or the air conditioner. The big celebration was cancelled due to the heat but the smaller ones went on. We give thanks for this sunburnt country in which we live, and for the fact that we can live in it, safely for the most part, and without the fear of starvation, or invasion. We pray for those in other countries who are not so lucky. For those who are maimed or killed by land mines, or who wait the coming of the next day with empty stomachs and empty hopes. We pray that you will give them hope, and that the spirit will move through us to ensure that there is delivery on their hope. And we pray for the many for whom the sound of a plane brings fear of attack, rather than the expectation of the arrival of a Jetstar flight. We take our safety for granted, and even the threat of terrorism cannot open our eyes to the everyday fear and expectation of death experienced in other countries.
Of course, while many of us did lie back on Australia day, drink in one hand enjoying a well earned day of rest and celebration, many other Australians also lay back, sniffed their petrol, drank their beer, and wondered what had happened to the country that used to be theirs. We pray for our indigenous population, who have become fringe dwellers, outcasts in their own lands. We pray that the Light of Jesus will shine upon them, and that the Holy Spirit will course through their souls, to lift them from the empty shell of life to which they have been consigned. Where once we came to take their children, to destroy their culture, and to splinter their society, we now pray for reconciliation, healing, and a true recognition of our sameness.
One bit of news, ABORIGINAL political figure Warren Mundine has become president of the Australian Labor Party and the country’s first indigenous political party president. We pray that we might look back on this as a turning point in our occupation of this wonderful land.
It’s Chinese New Year - Year of the Dog. There’ll be lots of celebrations going on, no doubt the traditional dragon will do the rounds, and there may even be fireworks. Just as we make a big fuss over our New Year, so many others in the world get all worked up at Chinese New Year. What with new years resolutions, presents, feasts and so on, and with the emphasis we place on some mythical division between an old year and some new year, we quite forget that every day is in fact a day for celebration on this account. For every day You make a-new, and through Jesus, each day becomes a new beginning. We pray that all will safely enjoy this Chinese New Year, but more importantly that they will come to realize the true and immeasurable joy that comes with every new day, lived in Christ. And we pray also for those who suffer under the Chinese regime in China and Tibet, for their race, and for their beliefs. We pray that the Holy Spirit will bring a new revolution of compassion and tolerance to China, this year in the year of the Dog.
Today we have/had the Sunday School dedication. As we point our young in your direction, so that they might know you better, help us to remember that it is through example that they learn most. We are the example, may we be the best example that we can. We pray for them, and for the Sunday school teachers and helpers, may they be guided by you, and may the Holy Spirit fill them with a passion for the faith. We pray for our minister as he goes into the schools to take your word to the children there. In the time of internet, playstation and iPod, may we capture the interest and imaginations of the young, who are our future.
Before closing, Lord, a prayer or two for some who are battling life at the moment.
And Look upon each here, and find room for them in your love. We pray for each other, for health, for strength, for sucker. Help us to minister not only to those we know or like, but those we do not know, and those we do not like. Knock down the Sunday fences that we build to contain our love that it might spread out unrestrictedly everyday, to everyone.