The year has only just begun and yet 2020 has been a tough one for many of us already. The fires in this country finally seem to be lessening in their intensity, but who knows if this is the end of this catastrophe. The whole country seems to have been on fire and, regardless of what happens from here, the devastation has been terrible.
Dozens of people have died, hundreds have lost their homes, and apparently over a billion animals have perished! I’m no expert when it comes to ecosystems, but are we going to recover from this? Can a billion animals (and countless more insects) really die and the rest of the country go on unaffected? I’m keen to hear what the experts have to say. In the meantime, I’ll continue to pray for more rain. We’ve had some – thanks be to God – but I believe we need a lot more yet.
And while this country has been burning, something happened in Iraq last week that had the potential to set the whole world on fire! Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani, and I really don’t think he had a clue what he was doing! Even disregarding the barbarity of the act, I am mystified as to what the US was hoping to achieve by this killing. If they were hoping to destabilize the Iranian government and to weaken Iran’s influence in the region, this action had the opposite effect in both cases.
The Iranian people have responded patriotically to seeing one of their favourite sons murdered and have gathered around the government. This is as one would expect. In terms of Iran’s influence in the region, Iraq has now asked the US to withdraw their forces completely from their country, thus aligning themselves more closely with Iran. I can only assume that Mr Trump’s focus was on domestic concerns and that he thought this might help with the impeachment process. It hasn’t.
The silver lining at this stage is that the Iranian response to the assassination was only a symbolic missile strike on a US facility in Iraq. Hopefully, by the Grace of God, the violence will end there. Keep in mind though that the US also assassinated the deputy-head of the Iraqi militia when they took out Soleimani, and they have promised to respond with no less severity than did Iran.
May God have mercy on us and preserve us from war.
I’m sharing my Christmas Day sermon with you today. We had a big turnout at Holy Trinity on Christmas Day and my sermon was well received. Was that because it was shorter than usual, or was it because I was the only preacher in the world who began their Christmas Day message by extolling radical left-wing journalist, Caitlin Johnstone? You be the judge. Click below or find the written version here.
As you know, 2020 is a big year of change for me. In a little over a month’s time I’ll be going down to part-time work with the church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill. In April I’ll lose my position as senior parish priest. Father Hugh Isaacs will take over that position and I will continue on as his assistant, at least until the end of the year. The formal date of the hand-over will be April 19th (the Sunday after Easter).
I’d ask you to put that date in your diary now. I’d like to set that Sunday aside to celebrate with my friends and to reminisce over all we’ve achieved here over the last thirty years. It’s been an amazing ride. I suppose it couldn’t go on forever.
It’s not clear to me yet how I will support Fran and myself financially once I go down to part-time work but my hope is to use whatever extra time I have to focus on other ministry, such as our youth camps at Binacrombi and the development of our Christian-Muslim Justice League. I’m hoping to have my “Christians and Muslims can be friends” book published at about that time too, which will hopefully open up new possibilities for speaking engagements.
Another idea I’ve had is to develop a podcast/videocast that looks at current social and political issues from a Christian perspective. I managed to convince my friend and colleague, Rev. Joy Steele-Perkins, to help me put together a pilot for this. It’s a bit unpolished and it goes for a full half-hour. Even so, if you could take a quick look at it, I’d be very grateful for any feedback you can give me.
As you can see, I’ve got lots of ideas for the future. How to translate them into something that will help support Fran and myself in the days ahead remains to be seen. I’m trusting that the Good Lord has it all in hand. Keep me in your prayers though please. Keep this country in your prayers. Keep our world in your prayers. Let’s pray that 2020 will not be remembered as the year of fire but as the year we came of age – the year that we learnt to respect each other and our environment.
Your brother in the Good Fight,