Bishop David Robinson
Recent raids on suspected terrorists, an increase in Australia's security status and claims that Australia faces a significant threat of a terror attack have perhaps changed the way we once felt about security.
In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Pope Francis, speaking about the number of armed conflicts raging in the world, stated, "Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war; one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction."
"War is madness," he said as he urged us to find a way of bringing peace into the world.
I wonder what you think? Are we in a piecemeal world war, is war madness and is there an alternative? How should we respond to the rise of the Islamic State with its barbaric acts of violence? Is there a specific Christian response?
None of these questions have easy answers. We are called, by God, to love our enemies but how should this be lived out in the face of terror? I do find myself wondering about these challenges and thinking about how we can respond at a local level.
I think it is too easy to assume that just because someone is different they are a potential threat. My experience of living and working overseas and of working with refugees in Australia is that the vast majority of people are seeking peace. They have no desire to maim and destroy and they condemn those who would commit acts of terror. They want safe homes, to be able to live without fear and to give their children the best start in life that they can.
A significant danger that we face is becoming so caught up in the political and media rhetoric that we start to see shadows where none exist. We see threats that are not there and we make judgments about people because of their faith or nationality that are not true. Our behavior towards others becomes distorted and, while we might say we love our neighbours, we love with conditions. We love only those who look like us, behave like us, believe like us. This serves to drive a wedge between the different groups in our society, creating anxiety and increasing tension.
When Jesus commanded that we love our neighbours as ourselves we can be sure he did so with good reason. The Kingdom of God is not revealed in division and disunity but in communities of love; communities that reach out to the refugee, the outcast, the ones who are different.
In the face of anxiety we are called to cast our cares upon God, to trust in God's goodness and to pray for peace – to pray 'your kingdom come'.
On a worldwide scale we may not be able to achieve much, but in the communities in which we live, learn, work and play we can make a difference; we can be the peacemakers; we can be bearers of the kingdom as we reach out with unconditional love to others.
May the God of peace, love and hope bless you as you serve him.
With every blessing
Bishop David Robinson
Let me begin by saying thank you to everyone for all of their efforts in making the ordination service and installation such a wonderful event. Jan and I were greatly blessed by your presence, prayers and commitment.
"The wedding has taken place, now the marriage begins" or to paraphrase, "the ordination has taken place, now the episcopate begins".
Like any good marriage the key to our relationship together as bishop and people is communication. Effective communication requires patience and a willingness to listen and to learn from one another. As I begin in this new role I am conscious that there are many gaps in my knowledge and I do ask you to be in touch whenever there are questions or information that you think I should consider.
In a world driven by individualism, it is important to remember that we are on the same team. In many marriages today the breakdown occurs because there is no sense of working together – each party wants their own way and refuses to give in, even though this behaviour is highly destructive of relationship. It is important for us, as the body of Christ, to model a different way of being. To remember that we are called to work together, to share a common purpose, and to let our love for one another shine in such a way that others are drawn to faith in Christ. I am sure you will all join with me in working to make this a reality.
Loving one another and communicating love can take place in many different contexts. In my role as ministry formation and training coordinator one of the key areas I asked students to think about is context. What is the context of your ministry? What should the ministry of the church look like in this context? How are you going to do church in your context?
Behind these questions lies the awareness that no two contexts are identical and that Australian society is made up of many different contexts, cultures and sub-cultures. Each of these contexts requires a different response if we are to be successful in communicating the message of Jesus in our community. This is not an easy task; it calls us to take risks, to let go of the past and to look at new ways of being and doing church.
Jesus reminds us 'Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12: 24). The very act of sowing is about taking risk - will the soil be good? Will it rain? But if the risk is not taken there is no opportunity for growth to occur. As you reflect upon your ministry and your context are there seeds that need to be sown, risks taken so that the kingdom of God may grow?
With every blessing
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