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What made last Advent unique?

3rd January 2015

Last Advent saw in my memory an unprecedented acknowledgment and even outpouring of the fruit of Christian grace on the public stage.
Earlier was so called agnostic Gough Whitlam's funeral service having Blake's Jerusalem and excerpts from St Matthews Passion, then his son detailing the liturgical influences on Gough's psyche. They can't do without it when it counts!
Not much longer came Phil Hughes death at the crease, the fully televised Catholic funeral service with the haunting melody of a modern version of the Shepherd's Psalm described by one sports editor as magnificent and beautiful. It didn't stop there. As the first test rolled on and Clarke, Warner and Smith made their tons they all looked upward to the supposed heavenly dwellings in salute. Then Warner publicly thanked Hughes for helping them make the win! As secular as we in other circumstances like to say we are, we can't get away from at least a folk-ised Christianity. We must have it.
Then came the Lindt cafe siege. As the second day drew to a close and the tragic hostage deaths were lamented news cameras focussed on one directly worded prayer to the Lord amongst the mass of floral tributes. The news cycle ended with Malcolm Turnbull outside the special service conducted by the archbishop at St Andrews Cathedral. Emotionally he concludes "its all about love, and that is why that service was so beautiful, it was all love"
The ABC 7.30 pm report had a terrorism expert asked the impossible question; how will we stop this from happening again? His answer-not by more legislation, there is enough already. If someone has evil in their heart and decides to execute that evil, there have to be other means to deal with it. Full stop.
Well there has been much talk about our values and Turnbull probably said it best. But values have to come from somewhere. And last years Advent events are all pointing in that direction. Behaviours, social and individual come from values . But values come from beliefs. And those value producing beliefs which have blessed our Aussie society come from one source only. The Bible. The revelation of Christ. The revealed truth of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Carols in the Domain topped it off with a service televised to the whole of Australia celebrating its annual highpoint with the Hallelujah chorus. Jesus- Lord of Lords.
We enjoy the fruit of Christianity; peace order, freedom and tolerance. After the siege police commissioners, politicians and media hosts reiterated these continuously . But such fruit only grows from trees with roots in the Word of God . Some like Nikki Gemmell in her Weekend Australian piece eschew church but like the carols, the blessings of Christianity, and acknowledges atheism has nothing to compete.
Well, the root has to be nourished to produce the fruit. And deep in the soul of Australians the Word of Christ must find a home for these values to flourish. Without direct relationship with God through Christ we are spiritual vacuums open to any ideology that is the fancy of lobbyists and hard core ideologues and religionists. Honour Christ as Lord in life and declare his name publicly every Sunday in resurrection joy. Preachers - preach it, your work is the premier task of the nation. Christians live it with trust and courage, you are the salt of the nation.

Ian Clarkson

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2 people have commented on this entry

  1. 1

    Thank you for the wonderful piece on Advent.  I think the unchanging and unchanged message of Easter is relevant to a world reeling and grieving from the frightening randomness of mindless violence.
    Christ’s physical resurrection is central to the belief that Christ is who He says He is and has done what He was called to do. For the rest of the world the gospel with its Easter message is a fairy tale that just wouldn’t die.
    It is therefore ironic that in western democracies like Australia where Christianity is supposed to be the dominant faith, that Easter is controversial. Not all churches are on the same page here. Take liberal denominations like the UCA (not their ethnic components though) which pride themselves on an enlightened , new age approach to the faith. It is necessarily heavy on the cruxification and very light on the resurrection. The story of Easter is but a hidden allegory about spiritual self-renewal or spiritual liberation of some sort. It is part of the agenda to explain away (often subtly) and align biblical events within the framework of a credible worldview. To do this plausibly, the gospel will have to be tweaked and Jesus must necessarily be relegated to the figure of another ‘very good man’, like Gautama Buddha or Prophet Mohammed. All very commendable, very intelligently rational.  But many people find it puzzling and ask the relevant question: if they believe in what they are preaching, that what they preach is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth why preach under the mantle of the Church then?  Why not launch a different belief-system? Does not the lack of conviction here speak for itself?
    To find out which version of the gospel message gets people’s hearts and minds, this Easter day you may wish to visit a church where Christian doctrine and beliefs have not changed for the past 2 millennia. It will be hard not to be struck by the feeling that you are witnessing a physical ’overflow of faith’, even though this is the 21st century.
    In a world reeling from frequent terrorist attacks, all the more frightening because of their randomness (this article was written in the aftermath of the attack in London), people need succour and comfort .New age deism leaves them empty.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 07:24 PM

  2. 2

    Thank you Kimmy for insightful comment and exhortation to preach the resurrected Christ with confidence,wherein lies Hope for all.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/27 at 10:52 PM