Australia Day

This weekend we mark Australia Day, a day when wecelebrate our nation’s history and heritage.  Dorothy Mackellar’s poem evokes a real sense of what it means to live with the Australian landscape, of the way we have to hold together the rugged beauty and the terror of this country that’s our home.  The heat, storms and fires of the past few weeks make this all very real.

 I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me

Australia Day sparks a range of emotions: pride, sorrow, happiness, anger and guilt. The Australian frontier was a violent place, and many Aboriginal lives were lost in the early years of settlement, prompting our indigenous brothers and sisters to see this day as invasion day, rather than a day to be celebrated.  Guilt is a wasted emotion, but we do have one of two choices on this day.  We can loudly proclaim our right to do as we please, or we can take account of the feelings of our indigenous brothers and sisters with whom we share this land.

On this third Sunday of Epiphany we find Jesus, the one shown to be God’s Son at his baptism, and who revealed a God of abundant grace as he turned water into wine at Cana in Galilee, standing up in the synagogue to declare his mission right at the beginning of his ministry.  This mission was to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the captives free.  Jesus’ mission is our mission – a mission to care for the weak and vulnerable, to release people from the things that bind them, and to share the ministry of healing in the church and in the world.  ‘Politics’ on both sides of the Australia Day debate has had much to say about the future of our national day, but if our spiritual mission is to be care of our neighbour, then we must own our history, and take account of the needs and sensitivities of our brothers and sisters with whom we share this land.

In peace, Mother Lynda

Gospel Reading:  Luke 4:14-21