From the Archbishop

Time to urge politicians to grasp a bigger vision


December 10 2017don’t know if it could ever be proven but I have a feeling that the sad and persistently depressing international trend of increasing human conflict has some link to our national lack of confidence in our own domestic politics. In other words, a world that appears increasingly out of control makes us dissatisfied with the quality of our political leadership – or even any political leadership – to turn things around. If there is a trend along these lines it is not operating at a rational or logical level – it seems to arise more out of our emotions and anxieties than it does from our thoughts.

The increasing polarisation between an imperative for change and a desire to keep things unchanged is, I think, another manifestation of the effect of a time of uncertainty that is upon us. Whether in the marriage equality debate or responses to the recommendations by Indigenous leaders for a Reconciliation Commission, battle lines appear to be quickly formed. Nuance also seems to be the victim of a trend to clothe each side of a debate with absolute claims.

The Church is, of course, not exempt from this but I am happy to suggest that we are not as far lost to this direction as other parts of our civic discourse. Maybe we have a better grasp of the ancient wisdom that is expressed in Proverbs 18.17, “The one who first states a case seems right, until the other comes and cross-examines”.

Our corporate dissatisfaction comes, curiously, at a time when we have a greater ability than ever before to actually address the domestic problems that afflict us. What we lack is the will and the drive to confront the issues that relegate some to a life of limited participation and flourishing. If my first premise is right, that bigger forces are at work that play out locally, it is no use blaming our politicians. Instead it is a time for us to urge them to grasp a bigger and more generous vision of who we are and where we can be as a nation.

Isn’t it remarkable how we are in as much evident need of a Saviour as any generation that has gone before us? It is into this very world that God sends his Son, a world full of contradiction between the potential for human greatness and the enormity of human failure. We more often associate the text of John 3.16 with the Easter narrative but I think that it is very appropriate as we celebrate the Incarnation of Christ: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

What God gives to the world in the baby of Bethlehem is a promise and a hope that even in the worst of times the best of who we are created to be can find its fulfillment.

May Christmas bring you closer to the wonder of this love, and may Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, soften the hearts of all whose hearts have become hardened by the troubles of the world. Have a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Read more from Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Primate of Australia and Archbishop of Melbourne, at