Pastoral Letter

Moderator's Comments - Posted 14 January 2016

Australia normally goes to sleep while we holiday for the five weeks after Christmas, undisturbed except by the latest cricket scores calmly delivered to us by Richie Benaud. That has not been the case this year, the standard of cricket has been poor, Richie is no longer with us and the following events have turned our minds to more disturbing matters: the resignation of two Federal ministers, Mal Brough and Jamie Briggs; the Chris Gayle interview involving journalist Mel McLaughlin; the ongoing drought in Western Queensland and NSW while NSW spends $7 million on fireworks on New Year’s Eve; the reports of widespread sexual harassment in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve; North Korea’s “hydrogen” bomb test, the beginning of the cyclone season with Vanuatu once again being in the path, this time of Cyclone Ula.

We live in a disturbing, unsettled world. This year we will face a Federal election in Australia and the possibility, if the Coalition is returned, of a national plebiscite on the nature of marriage.

The forces promoting single gender marriage seem to have the numbers, they have the slogan “marriage equality”, they will probably have the money and the bulk of media attention. However, they do not have the supporting research, reason, history or the Bible on their side. I believe the silent majority will make their voices heard.

In our church, we have started the year with a series on Matthew’s gospel, chapter 1: Jesus Christ is God’s King. It was a timely reminder of the undisturbed sovereign rule of God and to ensure that each of us, “crown him Lord of all”. We were reminded that wealth, comfort, security, pride and face saving are not king, but that Jesus is King.

The words of a king, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, ring true: “God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation!” Daniel 4:3.

Denominational leaders have been invited to meet PM Turnbull in his Sydney office on Friday, 12 February 2016. Please pray for that meeting.

We will be asking the PM to ensure that of the many Syrian refugees coming to Australia, persecuted minorities are included. It is clear that these minorities are not easily found in refugee camps, simply because, they are not safe in such camps. They must therefore be searched out in other places. Their needs are very great.

We will also be raising the issue of the plebiscite to seek to ensure that there will be some evenness to the debate so that neither side will be shouted down nor unfairly silenced.

We will be sure to pray with and for the PM. As Christian leaders there is much we can do and say, but we do not serve best, unless we pray. 1 Timothy 2:1 – 7 provides central apostolic instruction to pray for our leaders so that we may live peaceably, and so be free to share the gospel, God’s answer to humanity’s greatest need.

Our PM is a professing Christian and it is a good opportunity for us to remind him that his authority is not absolute but delegated and the best any delegated authority can do is to honour the delegator (Romans 13:1 – 7).

As we begin the year, could I recommend the motto of the mission organisation, SIM, as a good one for us to take up: “By prayer”. This is a reminder that we all have our part to play, but the work ultimately is His and the effectiveness of the work is in His hands.

A happy and productive new year to you all.

Rt Rev David Cook