How do we respond as Christians

How do we respond as Christians

As I write this column the nation is responding to the horrors of the bushfires in Victoria and the compassion and generosity of the Australian community is being expressed in amazing giving to various appeals.

At the same time we face the ongoing financial crisis, which our government is seeking to address with its stimulus package. I believe this ongoing crisis will also need Australians to exhibit compassion and generosity.

Our vision as a Synod is “Moving with God, transforming communities.” We say we will achieve this by being courageous, inclusive and generous.

The question Paula and I have been asking ourselves is, “In the current context how do we live out this vision? How do we respond as Christians?”

We count ourselves fortunate in that, at this time, we both are in employment and have benefitted from reduced mortgage interest rates.

It might well be prudent for us to save as much as we can in case our circumstances change. But where is the courage in that? How could that be considered either inclusive or generous?

Surely we must not only be concerned about ourselves but also the community of which we are a part? What can we do that will help the community and thereby be a part of God’s transforming purpose?

At a service in late 2008, in the faith community to which we belong, the congregation was asked what it was that we could do to support our nation in this time of crisis.

One person responded by saying that those of us who were employed or had stable income should not tighten our belts but spend more to support business in our local community.

Paula and I have taken that seriously, not so much in buying more commodities, but in patronising local food outlets more than we might have and considering whether there are some small opportunities for providing work in our home.

By the time this is published Lent Event will be well under way. Of course Lent Event asks us to give something up for Lent and contribute the cost to the Lent Event projects in third world countries.

Might I suggest that an alternative this year, for those who are in a position to do it, may be to continue stimulating the economy by buying the cappuccino, going out to dinner, enjoying dessert or chocolate and then giving the equivalent amount to Lent Event — for lent pay double, stimulate the economy and make a sacrifice at the same time.

At the time of the bushfires some people suggested that bonuses received under the government’s stimulus package could be redirected to the Bushfire Appeal.

I commend this suggestion, for those who are able, as it mirrors an idea that I have had to place any bonus I receive into a fund with the purpose of providing employment opportunities for those who are going to lose their jobs.

I wonder if there is anyone else who is prepared to do a similar thing and follow through on this idea. If it is only I who thinks this is a good idea maybe someone could be employed for a few days.

If there are lots of people maybe we could set up some sort of employment program. Maybe there are some people who could give of their expertise.

For others maybe diverting their bonus to the Moderator’s drought appeal would be a preferred option.

This fund, among other things, over the past year has been covering the costs of the pastoral visitation ministry of Fred and Ann Humphreys, retired farmers from Urbenville. The commitment was for a year but, given the continuing severity of the drought in the Riverina and because of the significant contacts Fred and Ann have made and the needs that still exist, they are prepared to volunteer for another six months.

Maybe there will be opportunity to train others in this valuable ministry for which there will be an ongoing need.

How can we contribute to building strength and resilience into our community at this time, moving with God with courage and generosity through actions that include not only concern for ourselves but also the community of which we are a part?

Niall Reid

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