From the Archbishop
2023 - Looking Ahead
2023 - Looking Ahead
The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO, Archbishop
My first experience of parents bringing their newborn baby to the parish church as their first stop after leaving hospital and before arriving home was a surprising one. It wasn’t a custom familiar in my part of Australian culture. They had made the church their first stop, thankful for a safe delivery, asking for a blessing for the baby, and offering the child to God. This was one of many glorious surprises and one of the variety of rituals and practices of God’s Church, which is more familiar in 2023 multi-cultural Australia than it was several years ago.
It was an act of offering, of dedication of that little baby, of that life to God, and a holy thanksgiving for the baby, and all of it wrapped up in hopes and dreams and prayers and expectations of and for good.
The many facets of this set apart time were all a blessing and we were all were blessed. That story was part of the story which was spoken of when it was time for the baby to be baptised.
In 2023 Anglicans in Australia, in our parishes, schools and communities, are a vast variety of people from all around the world teaching and learning new ways from each other of how to live and show and celebrate God’s love. And thank God, we are also listening and learning more and more about the faith we share, live and celebrate from First Nations Anglicans around the country.
I’ve thought of that young couple and their baby again over the past few days as I read a story of a woman travelling in Israel with people from her church. She writes of the challenges of being in the middle of a place of conflict and the experience (common to many) of so many discordant notes and events and situations. Fighting, harsh politics, poverty and injustice, dealing with being in holy places that seem to have become a tourist trap, the list could go on.
At the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the crypt which is spoken of as the birthplace of Jesus, all that grated her was present until the moment when a young Palestinian couple entered the crypt carrying a newborn baby – just a few days old. She writes, ‘Ignoring everyone around them they approached the holy place of Christ’s birth, and kneeling held their baby over the shrine for a moment or two. And everything changed. It’s suddenly very quiet and still as we watch this simple gesture of faith by parents wanting something special for their child’.
For many, many people across the world and right here where we live, holding hope for new beginnings, for blessings, seems both present and yet fragile. As 2023 unfolds we Perth Anglicans will continue to pray for all those places in which war and conflict are escalating, for those places in which political stability is at risk, for those who continue to live without shelter or security, people who are refugees because of war or climate catastrophe. And we will pray and where possible support the increasing number of people here who are so vulnerable as a result of inadequate housing stock, and financial hardship.
This year, there will be opportunity to study the scriptures and work to understand more about how as Christians we can be praying, learning and listening about the future of this country as we prepare for the Government’s next step on the road of Indigenous Voice to Parliament. This year there will also be time to think, pray and make decisions about the Diocesan RAP detail as it rolls out, and what that can look like in every local Anglican community.
This year Anglicans will keep on caring for and being with people for whom the financial situation of their life means they are on the very edge of coping. We will learn more about how best we can be alongside those for whom family and domestic violence is a daily reality as Mothers Union, the Social Responsibility Commission and parishes take up the 10 Commitments which our Church has adopted to assist individuals and families.
This year we will keep on alongside those whose theology and biblical approach is so at odds with our own even as Anglicans. We will be invited to listen and speak with each other, again, for the love of Christ as we grapple with our disagreements over human sexuality, especially focussed on the church’s ministry and understanding of life for those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and their families.
In 2023 we Anglicans will tell the good news of Jesus’ love and mercy and marvellous grace as we have known it, as we have dedicated ourselves to it, as we have experienced it, like newborns held by God in the most holy place.
All around the Diocese we will strive to honour the mission which Jesus entrusted to us as his church and welcome newcomers, forming new disciples in different ways.
We will celebrate and despair. We will know joy and pain in our ministries. And, every single day God our father will be loving us – every single one of us.
In all this and more I pray that this year we will be like Simeon in the Temple at the story of Jesus Presentation, all faithfully waiting and holding out hope in God’s gift of Jesus to be made known to the people for whom we pray. May the people we meet, we speak with, we minister with and to, see Jesus in us, and seek his blessing for themselves.
Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation:
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
A light to reveal you to the nations:
and the glory of your people Israel.
God to God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
as in the beginning, so now, and for ever. Amen.