We can be 'Easter people' with those we meet
April 7 2019We are the Church for the whole world – this is God’s choice, not ours. Our history from the time of the Reformation shapes us to be a Church for the Nation. The rejection of both Puritanism and obedience to the See of Rome in favour of an uneasy subservience to the Crown has shaped our polity. We are shaped to be in the mix of our society no matter what – our parish system puts us in the middle of community and it is from there that we have done some of our best work. It is a critical part of our identity that we engage in and with the community.
The gradual reduction of adherence to Anglicanism over the last century, right across our nation, has rattled the simplicity of our proposition of worship and service in pursuit of the common good. We are in a time where there is now a tension between sectarianism and the common good, between tribalism and the whole of community. In Australia today, people are homeless, struggling with addictions, domestic violence and depression – suicide is too often a tragic outcome. So-called “tribal tensions” of ethnicity, socio-economic status, and even between the suburbs of “the haves and have-nots”, are sadly too evident.
In the weeks ahead we will hear much about some of these themes in the federal election campaigns of all parties. How does our Easter faith inform our interaction with the world around us? Do we retreat to a spirituality and piety that is about what happens “inside” the church or embrace this bigger vision that I have spoken about?
It is certainly true that many aspects of community engagement that were once the prerogative of the parish are carried out by the schools and agencies that they birthed. It is also true that schools and agencies operate at a level of professionalism and resource that is now wildly beyond the experience of parishes. Our parish partnerships program is intended to work with this reality and better link the aspirations we have for a bigger engagement from parishes and parishioners with their community and the professionalism of our community services agencies in particular.
Easter makes a fresh declaration that we are a priestly people who are joined to the high priesthood of Christ through his death and resurrection. As the Father sends the Son to a life of complete identification with us and as his death on the cross changes forever the trajectory of world history, so we are gathered into this reality through our baptism. Being “Christ’s own forever” means being joined, each day, into God’s purposes declared in Jesus for the world.
As much as our institutional work with its foundations in this vision is important, so are the countless opportunities that we have individually and corporately to be Easter people with those we meet. Be encouraged that the risen Christ intercedes for each and all of us at the right hand of God (Romans 8.34). Whether on the cross or now in heaven, the vocation of Jesus to restore us and all things to God is a living and vital mission which we are privileged to be entrusted with. Have a blessed and holy Easter.
Read more from Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Primate of Australia and Archbishop of Melbourne, at http://www.anglicanprimate.com.au