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A message from the NCCA President

covidx150REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS

I imagine you are also trying to keep life as normal as possible, while adjusting to evolving news about the Coronavirus.

Our Churches are sending information regularly to members. The Media is full of advice and stories.

So, at the NCCA, we are assuming you have all the information you need for sensible choices.

We are certainly aware of how, as with the bush fire crisis, compassionate pastoral care is being offered practically and locally.

If you need more information or have information and stories to share, then please use this regular Newsletter as a way to maintain helpful communication.

As you may be aware, earlier than many, we have rearranged some meetings and travel. Next week was to include a National Church Leaders meeting, an Assembly and a Board meeting. We have deferred the first two and arranged video conferencing for our Board members, who are in different States.

Speaking personally, I am taking account of the plea from experts that minimal contact for this immediate period should be an organising principle for our daily choices. To save lives!

Meanwhile, we keep offering our prayers, in the grace and peace of Jesus.

Appreciating our unity, a short prayer follows the reflection below. 

UNITY AND OUR WORK TOGETHER NOW AS THE NCCA

Taking every opportunity to deepen relationships for service, creating new friendships and building unity.

Launching a fine new book “Leaning into the Spirit: Ecumenical Perspectives on Discernment and Decision- making in the Church” at the ACC&C in Canberra on February 27, Archbishop Christopher Prowse emphasised the importance of friendship in Christian unity.

An atmosphere of friendship enables us to better receive the gifts of one another, yes? A friendly atmosphere helps us to sustain an open orientation towards one another, more assuming of our unity.

  launchx300 
(L-R) +Sir David Moxon, ++Christopher Prowse,     
Dr. Virginia Miller and +Stephen Pickard.

In my time as President, I have become much more aware of our NCCA’s crucial unifying role. Both because of our surrounding Australian culture, which can seem to amplify conflicts and divisions. (Our cultural discourse can make any unity seem rather elusive and fragile!) But also because some of our member Churches have significantly difficult internal issues.

Archbishop Christopher and I first became friends when he was in Melbourne. It was post - 9/11 initiatives, reaching out to the Muslim community, which first brought us together. Then we discovered a common affection for the Focolare movement. Then I often found him swimming in the fast lane, next to my slow lane of the Richmond Pool!

As is true for many of our NCCA community, such simple matters, as with Archbishop Chris and I, make for that quality of friendship which deepens our unity in service.

Relatedly, somewhat thrown together by Member Churches' nominations at the time, our NCCA Board has developed a quality of friendship as we have worked through various issues. There is prayerful trust, warmth and respect. I look forward to seeing my Board colleagues!

Looking ahead, am I right in discerning that our beloved Lord is calling for our continuing and enhanced role in building unity, both in the nation and amongst our churches?

Recently in Melbourne, Laurence Freeman, leader of the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) reminded us, “Unity is at the heart of the teaching of Jesus, and it is this knowledge of unity the world craves for.” That is so true.

Intuitively, we know that unifying leadership is needed if we are to meet such global challenges as the Coronavirus and Climate change. Let alone cultivate a security system not based on weapons of mutually assured destruction or requiring an arms race that, by its opportunity cost, causes more of the poor to starve!

Unifying leadership is so inspiring when we see it!

Laurence Freeman reminds us of Jesus farewell discourse in which he prays that “they may all be one as you Father are in me and I in you” ( John17:21 )... “This truth that Jesus reveals ...that we are essentially one", is a truth Laurence urges us to better embody as Australian people of faith.

Our spiritual practices, including meditation, help us discover this deep unity of the human being which, says Laurence, “comes from God within us - Christ in us”, St Paul says.

Living from this, we can better heal the wounds of violence and division.

As dear Laurence then says so poignantly, “division destroys unity because, as the word suggests, it is diabolical, it splits ...”

So, the point of my Reflection, as Lent draws us towards Easter, is simple enough. We need deeper unity in service, everywhere!

In the grace of Jesus, let’s keep reaching out in friendship together.

A PRAYER FOR THESE DAYS.

Gracious God,

We give thanks anew for our call to unity. In Jesus prayer, may we all be one.

We seek your grace, aware as we are of the consequences of division, so we can better build unity.

Guide us to be more aware of whatever hinders true harmony.

Help us make our best contribution to national unity and care for one another, especially amidst the anxieties of the current Coronavirus.

We pray our NCCA can better fulfil our unifying purpose in these troubled times.

Fill us with your Holy Spirit so we listen well, deepen friendships and are truly helpful,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Bishop Philip Huggins.

President, National Council of Churches in Australia 

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