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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 4

28 January, 2018

Last week I received an e-mail from a friend; she signed off: "Hope you have a good Survival/Invasion Day long weekend." Each year around Australia Day the bedrock (or clay feet) of our bi-cultural relations as a nation come to the fore. Important as questions of Multiculturalism are, the foundational relationship between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians is arguably of paramount importance. On Wednesday we had the first Parish Council (PC) meeting of the year, and our Chair encouraged us to reflect on the Australia Day prayer in A Prayer Book for Australia:

We bless you, God of the universe
      for this land,
      for its contrast of landscape and climate
      for its abundance of wealth and opportunity.
We bless you for our history,
      with all its struggles in adversity
      its courage and hope.
Give us in our diversity
      tolerance and respect for each other
      and a passionate commitment to justice for all.
Bless us so that we might be a blessing to others.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

PC then went on to discuss several aspects of what is included and not included in this prayer. Is "tolerance" a good word; which for some means "reluctant acceptance"? Are we setting the bar too low when we ask God for help in tolerating, rather than actively embracing "our diversity"? Does the prayer go far enough in acknowledging historical grievances and contemporary racial injustice; or in truly celebrating the courage and hope of Aboriginal people and settlers alike? There was a consensus that the prayer could do with a revision.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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St Peter's Eastern Hill, Melbourne Australia.

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