|Pen and Ink Reflections||
So, angels are coming. How will we greet them? At once, perhaps we start to ponder: but what are we greeting? And are there such things as angels anyway? Modernity’s functional materialism has so much to answer for! From a Reformed Christian perspective today it is also sometimes hard to engage. For whilst the classic Reformed theologians were quite clear that angels are to be taken very seriously, as they appear in so many places in the Bible. Yet later thinkers have found less value. In some quarters of liberal and progressive Protestantism they almost became erased: rejected with supposedly passé doctrines like the virgin birth, miracles and even major articles of the historic creeds. Ironically, as liberal Protestantism declined, other faith constructions began to thrive, not least New Age spiritualities with their extraordinary mix of angelic and other speculations. Did demythologising thereby open the door to old heresies? - as well as to a loss of divine wonder in the secular world? Certainly, as Les Murray pondered in his poem ‘The Barranong Angel Case’, which we heard read earlier, do we have the capacity to see and receive the angels of Christian tradition today?
This being our national churches’ day of prayer for refugees, let me begin with a brief video clip to help focus our hearts and minds. It shares the voices of some of our Australian children, expressing well the human issues of deep pain and the need for greatly enlarged compassion in our country and world today, as well as a touch of the confusion and helplessness many of us can feel…
Now, I know that there is much disagreement about certain aspects of refugee policy in this country, including among some Christians. It is a striking feature for example, that key political figures who have shaped recent Australian refugee policy are well-known Christians, including the Prime Minister and the former Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Mr Scott Morrison. Their views and actions, whilst supported by many, have hardly been popular with others. For the overwhelming consensus of our Church leadership and informed research is that we, as a nation, have not got it right with refugee and asylum seeker policy. Indeed, our Church leadership tells us, again and again, that we are currently often out of step with both international human rights and Christian compassion. So, whether or not we, as individuals, agree with our national political leadership, this makes prayer and support for refugees an important concern for us all. As Christians, we can hardly sidestep the issue. As Australians, we have a fine record of receiving and caring for refugees. In Toowoomba indeed, we have so much to celebrate in that regard, not least in work which this parish helped pioneer. So what do we now do to build upon it?...