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On the Edge

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On the Edge

by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO | Archbishop

In July this year the ABC began to roll out the Australia Talks project in which over 54,000 people answered a variety of questions about life in Australia. The project is aimed at helping uncover what is important to us, what we think and how we feel on a wide number of issues. Now anyone can go online to answer the questions and find out where we are in relation to others, so I decided to have a go.

I can now report that religion is more important to me than it is to about 86% of Australians. I also discovered that around 1 in 3 people about my age don't feel happy. Happily, I was in the happy majority on this one! It does seem, however, that younger people are a little less likely to be happy than those with a few more years behind us, I also discovered that I'm in a clear minority of people who are open to living in a nursing home. While 90% of Australians feel that politicians will lie if they believe the truth will hurt them politically, most are positive about the education our children are receiving.

It might be comforting to have statistics which back up my own sense that knowing God's love and living out faith in Christ is a recipe for positives, not as pop psychology, but rather the bone-deep belief that there is a purpose to our lives in God. Then again, what would statistics add to what we already know, that our individual stories are held in God's love story for the world.

The Mission Plan 2020+ speaks of being people known for our love, because we are people who know the transforming love of God in Jesus Christ.

Our friends, families, colleagues and neighbours are asking what makes for happiness? What brings a deep and abiding security, purpose and sense of meaning? People want to know what can hold them - their doubts and fears and hopes and dreams. We believe that what holds all things together is what is embodied in Christ's incarnation, something that can change our orientation from fear to faith. We believe that Christ at the centre of our world frees us from the tyranny of trying to live like little gods in charge of our own tiny finite universe. We believe that God's incredible mercy is the sharp point of his loving judgement, and that in the baby born in Bethlehem we can, if we are willing, see enough of that love for our whole life.

Self-appointed prophets who presume to tell us what God is like are not always looking or listening carefully enough, not taking seriously God’s self-disclosure, no matter which bits of scripture they grasp for back up. Every single year at Christmas the truth of God comes close enough for us all to see, close enough to touch.

Malcolm Guite's sonnet On the edge speaks to the hope that Christmas has been, is and will be.

As Malcolm Guite says:

Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, out-buildings of an inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed-at cosmic origin.
Christmas set the centre at the edge.
And from this day our world is re-aligned;
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,
The End begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.

Malcolm Guite, Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2012 p15

Published in Messenger, December 2019. Image credit and copyright ©WWM

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