Happy New Year. Welcome to 2021!
As the blog kicks off for the year, you can expect a bundle of new things as well as all the usual: Jesus, a healthy dose of patriotism and a continuing desire to explore differing perspectives in a respectful manner.
Which is why I’ve decided to start the year by exploring the Christmas and New Year’s messages from Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese (aka Scomo and Albo).
At times like this, we need each other and unity more than ever, so it seems a fitting start to the year.
As Albo said in his Christmas message, “It’s been a tough year, but Australians stood together. We helped each other. We’re getting through this together.” He then paid tribute to all the essential workers who have worked in health, supermarkets and cleaning services – keeping us healthy, hygienic and not hungry.
To Albo, I say thanks for the acknowledgement that teachers had to reinvent everything they did – and rather quickly to keep the ‘school show’ on the road.
His somewhat comical throwing of the 2020 fridge calendar into the bin coincided clearly with his wish for a “better New Year” in his January 1st message. It also coincided with Scomo’s – at times – rather jovial presentation at a press conference on the same day.
“We are one and free” he declared was replacing the historical “We are young and free” previously sung in Australia’s National anthem. Again, highlighting the importance of unity and also the recognition of Australia’s Indigenous people.
In both this press conference and in his Christmas message, Scomo acknowledged that despite how difficult a year 2020 was for Australians, it has been far worse in other countries. As he said, “So we give thanks this year for our Christmas because our blessings outweigh our struggles.”
As Christians, we can (and I do) thank God for his goodness to this country and pray that it will continue. Being a Christian, it is unsurprising that Scomo finished his Christmas message by turning a Bible verse into a prayer for the country:
“And my prayer for Australia this Christmas comes from the great verse: “Let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we shall reap a harvest, if we do not give up.“”
I thought it was an excellent verse to pick for Australia: acknowledging the agricultural past, present and future and the need for us all to be resilient, work hard and ‘keep the faith’.
I often have a verse sitting on my shelf that, despite its ancient Jewish origins, always makes me think of Australia:
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11
For me, this verse reflects the climate of Australia and again, the importance of agriculture. Whilst Scomo’s verse explores our need for hard work, the second expresses God’s gracious provision. The two work hand in hand. Both are needed for a nation to truly prosper.
So, do you have a verse for Australia in 2021? Or for elsewhere if you’re outside Australia? It’s always worth considering your prayer for where you live, year by year, or even more frequently than that.
So why not try something new in this New Year and give it some thought?
No matter what side of politics you sit on, we can all ask God to make our nation prosper.
Yours in praying a verse,