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From the Administrator

A different way of hearing…

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The Rt Revd Kate Wilmot, Assistant Bishop

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

A different way of hearing…

Sometimes, it can be profoundly moving to hear familiar words given an unfamiliar translation.

I remember a surprsingly deep response when first encountering Kel Richards’ retelling of the birth of Jesus in the Aussie Bible. This was a paraphrasing of scripture rather than a scholarly translation of the text but to have the Nativity transported into a local context (Mary and Joseph go off to “Bethlehem Shire”) made a huge difference to the way I heard and experienced the story.

Years later, I listened at a Pentecost service as a male colleague read from John 16:13 saying unexpectedly “When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all truth; for she will not speak on her own but will speak whatever she hears, and she will declare to you the things that are to come.”

This is not a common reading of the passage, but it was a new way of hearing. For many of us, inclusive language delivers not only a sense of relief, but a deep invitation into a reimagined relationship.

I expect these kinds of reimaginings and new horizons were a feature of the Pentecost event described in Acts 2:1-11. Suddenly people heard Good News delivered in their own first languages. They recognised that something exceptional was taking place and they were amazed and wondered how it could be done.

What reorientated people at Pentecost was not what they spoke, but what they heard.

In March, at the National Bishops’ Meeting, the bishops of the Australian Church sat and listened as First Nations people Professor Glenn Loughrey and The Reverend Shannon Smith spoke of the importance, the issues and the possible outcomes of the Voice to Parliament.

It was a very real experience to be receiving this presentation in Hobart (which the first peoples called Nipaluna). Tasmania is a stunningly beautiful place with a very terrible history for indigenous people in addition to a sad and savage history for the first Europeans imprisoned there.

In our broken world, there are no perfect solutions anywhere (because perfection belongs to God).

The longer I live in Australia, the more I find myself wanting to hear and see in new ways, to know and discover the natural beauty of our country and to receive the difficult details of its marred history.

I want to hear the Australian people (all of them) speaking in their own first languages and I hold out hope that the Voice to Parliament will bring repaired and reimagined relationships between original Australians and those who came later.

I want to take hold of the whole of our history, not just a part of it.

For this reason, I’m going to support the Voice to Parliament and I’m going to trust the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our hearing.

Published in Messenger May 2023

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