What's the World Coming To?
A Year Like No Other!
No doubt, as you draw near to the end of 2020, you are full of many various emotions and impressions. It was a year like none other and we are still reeling from it.
Across the world, nations, communities, businesses and churches responded quickly to the practical realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, here in Tasmania, we have been spared the worst and are currently largely unaffected compared to much of the world.
Assess and Adapt
Nevertheless, we have faced challenges. Sin is after all, not just a personal reality, but is corporate and social as well, and we see it at work in the world in many ways. It seems authoritarianism, in various forms, is emerging around the world. The physical and mental health of millions has deteriorated during the pandemic, and the planet's life-sustaining systems are labouring due to poor stewardship.
Yet not all is bad news. Just like the rest of Australia, we have had to quickly adapt to lockdown and use new technologies to move to virtual meetings and services. Recent McCrindle research(1) notes how nearly 50% of churchgoers say they have invited more people to church online than they did to church in-person before the pandemic. Some form of digital church is here to stay.
It seems authoritarianism, in various forms, is emerging around the world.
Being God's Instruments
McCrindle's research also suggests that the pandemic has produced a deepening interest of spiritual and faith matters. At least half of the Australian community have thought more about the meaning of life and their own mortality and more than a quarter have had more spiritual conversations and have found themselves praying more. So, while many Australians are disillusioned with the church as an institution, as they are with most institutions, many remain spiritually hungry.
This will not come as a surprise to our churches and would confirm what many have experienced through the year. Over the past months you would have read this in articles in ADVANCE | step by step. There are many stories of how Baptist churches have responded to this moment. We have been God's instruments in meeting the spiritual and social needs of people in our community, helping people through moments of significant social isolation.
While many Australians are disillusioned with the church as an institution, many remain spiritually hungry
To Preserve Life - Or Not?
It is a profound irony how during this time of pandemic, when significant effort has been exerted to preserve life, particularly the elderly, fragile members of our community, there is also a push in our state parliament to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia. The End-Of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 has passed through the Legislative Council, and is now before the House of Assembly.
I have spoken with the primary promoter of the legislation, Mike Gaffney, by phone. While I believe he is well meaning, I'm deeply concerned, not only of the intent of the bill, but that "his bill, while allowing doctors to boycott the system, unashamedly does not allow faith-based hospitals and aged-care homes to deny VAD to their patients."(2)
Here is an opportunity to be a voice in our community, particularly for the most vulnerable. We can act by writing letters or emails to our members in the House of Assembly or perhaps seek an in-person meeting to express our concerns.
Let's Choose NOT to Yield
God has not given up on the world. Jesus, when facing his impending death, did not yield to the forces at work but remained faithful. On the third day he was brought back to life again, declaring death defeated and making mercy available to the world.
Let us also not yield to the forces of darkness and death, but trust in the God of light and resurrection.
Amid our challenges and the darkness of our time, let us also not yield to the forces of darkness and death, but trust in the God of light and resurrection.
Mission Director, Tasmanian Baptists
(2) The Australian, November 7, 2020, accessed at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/scramble-for-faith-protections-as-euthanasia-bill-set-to-pass/news-story/5bd9d001ceda63ebed31864495f3145d
More reading in the December ADVANCE | step by step
The Monthly Byte >>> From the Social Justice Task Force