Whether on the front line with Australian troops or working with military personnel and their families, Defence Force chaplains like Uniting Church minister Rev Charles Vesely are a potent reminder that the end state of conflict is always peace.
I’m Stuart McMillan the National President and this is my prayer for you, the people of God of the Uniting Church in Australia. On this our 40th Anniversary, God’s word of grace to us from the Basis of Union is: Christ constitutes, rules and renews his church.
The reconciliation and renewal of the whole creation - this is the mission of God and in Christ we are collaborators.
I’m here in Kurrajong on the lower slopes of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s north-west. I want to pay my respects to the Kurrajong Clan Nation, their elders past and present and all descendants of these sovereign First peoples.
Tonight the Tongan National Conference begins. This will be an intergenerational gathering of up to 1500 people raising their voice in praise to an awesome God.
The rich cultural diversity of the Uniting Church today, for which I give thanks to God, is God’s gift to us. The Spirit of God is transforming our Church into the fullness of a fellowship of reconciliation.
Speaking of reconciliation, our covenantal journey with First Peoples has been profoundly important, a witness to the shared love of God amongst us. The Statement from the Heart produced by the Uluru Constitutional gathering recently, calls our nation to a maturity which recognises First Peoples sovereignty and gives them a voice.
Christ’s rule and renewal in our Church will see us move beyond the recognition of First Peoples in our Constitution to fully enable their sovereignty to be honoured through changed practices of our Church and just actions we will take to ensure that our destiny together is strengthened and justice is done.
I was inspired this year by leaders of the Evangelical, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic Churches in Beirut Lebanon. They told us how they practice a theology of impact. Impact, friends, is what Christ equips us for: to have an impact in our communities, in our nation and in partnership with our international and ecumenical sisters and brothers.
I was deeply impacted by the love shared in the fellowship of reconciliation we call Yuróra at the beginning of this year. One thousand young people from the wonderful cultural diversity of our Church; First and Second Peoples, hearts filled with passion. The young adults in this community are today’s leaders, and we older folk are called by God to make room for them, to encourage them and to come alongside them.
Let us celebrate this anniversary in congregations and faith communities large and small, rural and remote and urban, and in our caring agencies, schools and theological colleges. Let us remember the heroes of the faith, those who have guided us the past 40 years and earlier. Some well-known and others less but all faithfully serving God’s mission in Christ.
Church, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
God bless you as together we continue to serve in Christ’s love.