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President's reflection

Thursday 6 August 2020

An anniversary of two kinds of Light. One of wonder, the other of terror. 

On August 6, in our Church we celebrate the radiance of Jesus “transfigured on the holy mountain and seen in splendour”, as we pray in the Collect for the day.  

Jesus' radiance is described like this by Matthew. “His  face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light". ( Mt 17:1-9). 

This gift of grace may have been meant to help the disciples deal with the upcoming Passion and the Cross.  

As they came back down the mountain, Jesus asked them not to tell anyone about this vision of glory until after the resurrection. 

As people of resurrection faith, from the early Church to now, we see how the glorified states of the transfiguration and of  the resurrection are related.

But 6 August 2020 is also the 75th Anniversary of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. 

So, for 75 years we of the Church have had this haunting contrast on August 6: the beautiful light of our radiant Saviour and the terrible light that spread destruction across Hiroshima at breakfast time, that summer morning. 

The NCCA wrote in late June to our PM, Leader of the Opposition and to both the Minister and Shadow for Foreign Affairs and Trade. We urged that our Federal Parliament, with bipartisan co-operation, hold a debate and discussion on nuclear disarmament, given this 75th anniversary. 

Aside from the historic and contemporary politics of nuclear disarmament, the coincidences of August 6, do focus our NCCA role with others, in God’s grace, to try and transfigure our somewhat disfigured world. 

With every thought, word and action which is our truest, kindest and most beautiful we make a contribution. 

Every contribution helps.  

What I find also helps, is a timely perspective. 

A fine Russian priest recently reminded me that, really, Christianity is in its infancy, like an arrow well launched but only beginning its course. Or, in AFL parlance, we are about half way through a (shortened) first quarter! 

Notwithstanding our many failures, Christianity, he reminded me, has a great aspiration: to break down the barriers of egoism, to end our “trance of selfishness".  

The beautiful, radiant light of Jesus gives us delight and draws us towards an enlightenment, full of compassion for all beings. 

As we look upon Jesus and seek to live in the divine light, we become freer of  that “trance of selfishness"and see we are one human family, all made in the divine image and likeness, called to love one another. 

Appreciating this, we see on the August 6 Anniversary how deep now is our disfiguring of all God has given us. 

How could we even think of extinguishing whole populations of people and all surrounding species, with a nuclear weapon? 

How could we call this a “Security System”? 

Yet this is what passes for a feasible reality - as the nuclear weapon states and allies wilfully refuse to honour their obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and get rid of these weapons, as the condition necessary to ensure other nations don’t acquire them. 

August 6 faces us with our existential choice. 

We have the possibility of ratifying and implementing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which now has 40 Ratifications. Once 50 countries have ratified it, the Treaty will enter into force. (Source:

Is it to be this, or the current trends of more nuclear weapons and more nuclear weapon states? (Horizontal and vertical proliferation, as it is called.) 

The choice is obvious  but the politics are complex. Especially now, as we hear again of a new "Cold War". This time between the USA and China. 

I went to New York for the first UN Special Summit in the mid 1980’s and witnessed the stand-off then between US President Reagan and USSR Premier Brezhnev.  I also witnessed dear surviving souls of Hiroshima present a petition full of pleading that this never happen again. 

Our Federal political leaders have many demands upon them, given the pandemic. 

One hopes their co-operative spirit over this pandemic crisis might extend to a nuanced parliamentary discussion and debate on how Australia can help with nuclear disarmament. 

Bishop Philip Huggins 

President, National Council of Churches in Australia.

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