The first church service in Australia was held on Sunday 3rd February 1788, eight days after the First Fleet’s arrival. Captain Arthur Phillip had ordered “No man to be absent on any account whatever.” Richard Johnson, the chaplain, preached on Psalm 116:12. If we can assume that church gatherings of some kind have been held every Sunday since, then today is the 12,105th Sunday that Australians have gathered in the name of Jesus Christ. I find this an exhilarating thought.
While Australia Day does bring some very mixed feelings for some, especially among the First Australians, it is undoubtedly a day when as Christians we can give thanks to God for his goodness to Australia, and to pray for his blessing especially on those many Australians who will not pray for themselves because they do not yet know God. I hope we will also see that God has been powerfully at work throughout our history, perhaps rather more than is evident from secular historians who have wanted to downplay the role of Christians in Australia. If you would like to explore more of this, I recommend three books: “The Fountain of Public Prosperity” and “Attending to the National Soul”, both by Stuart Piggin and Robert Linder, and a lighter book “The Bible in Australia”, by Meredith Lake.
- Don’t miss church next week as we launch our year with Vision Sunday, with Sunday School and the choir back on deck. Our new sermon series will be on Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount.
- Keep considering how you could serve this year, whether in ESL, creche, or perhaps by helping with the food for Kids’ Club on Wednesdays.
- Bible study groups start up again soon, and, although we will be down a group until Rev. Andrew Goddard arrives in April, groups still have room for new members!