prayer for the state:
Wednesday 24th November, Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart
This year’s Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast brought together like-minded people from across Tasmania to pray for our State, our leaders, parliamentarians, businesses, schools, communities, and community organisations; our families, youth, and children.
Over 400 people attended this, the 16th annual Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. It was attended by Church and business leaders, aid agency representatives, and many other Christians from across the state.
A record number of State and Federal politicians attended, 26 out of a possible 40. This included the Premier Peter Gutwein, the Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff, and Leader of the Opposition Bec White. Jacquie Petrusma MP welcomed all as the Parliamentary Host.
Tasmania’s Young People
The breakfast was chaired by Stephen Baxter (Tas Baptist Mission Director), who oversees the TPPB organising committee. The newly formed Calvin School Choir, pictured below, performed for those gathered.
Prof. Patrick Parkinson, the speaker at the recent Tasmanian Baptist Annual Assembly, gave an overview of some of his achievements. He spoke about the care and nurture of young people in Tasmania, and presented some concerning statistics. Having suffered childhood abuse, and his current blended family, he spoke into those numbers with heart-warming vulnerability and authority.
As usual, Stephen Baxter gave a very insightful framing to begin the morning. It is reproduced here for you . . .
Let me take a moment to explain why I believe we are here.
We gather in the name and spirit of Jesus to pray for our state and its people. From the oldest to the youngest, those doing well and those not so well, those who lead and those who serve.
Across this room we are a rich and diverse tapestry of culture, experience, outlook and belief, believers and non-believers alike. We do life together on this magnificent island, Tasmania – lutruwita. We are wrapped in the world’s purest air, graced with magnificent forests and magical lakes, lined with epic coastlines and surrounded by crystal clear water. It is a slice of heaven. We are truly blessed.
Yet, our lives, public and private, could be better. Perhaps, more than ever, we are rightly aware of the wrongs of the past, sensitive to racism and injustice, and conscious of the need to care for our environment. But the same time we are distracted by fear and anger. It shapes our lives.
A damaging polarisation is at work. We see it in the rage and resentment that prioritises victimhood and grievance over community and resilience. We see it in the violence – verbal, written and physical – that seeks to silence the opinions of others. The result sadly, is division, conflict, and animosity, even between good people. And it solves little.
At the same time, we are losing the art of forgiveness. We dredge up things from someone’s past suggesting it defines them today – conveniently forgetting each of us is more than the worst we have done.
Some advocate the removal of faith from the public square. They do so unaware that true faith nurtures confession, repentance, and the potential for redemption and restoration. If we are to overcome the significant challenges we face, I am convinced we need to include faith.
As a spiritual leader I appreciate you might be sceptical. I am deeply aware the Church, in its various forms, has let our community down in so many ways. I know I speak for many when I say I’m sorry.
Churches are not exempt from the need for confession and repentance. We are always learning and relearning how to follow Jesus. His execution by the authorities of the day, which included the religious, was a brutal form of cancel culture. They did not like what he said so they silenced an innocent man.
We all can learn from his response. It was not resentment or rage, but a cry, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”. We all need forgiveness. The resurrection of Jesus reveals God is willing to give it.
Love, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s what holds our lives and families, our communities and our future together. Every day, inconspicuously and unheralded, thousands of Tasmanians just ‘do it’. They don’t seek wealth, power, or fame, but quietly do what needs to be done: lending a hand, sharing a meal, volunteering at emergencies, caring for the forgotten, and courageously standing for what they believe.
It’s spiritual. It is what lights and sustains the fires of excitement, passion, vision and sacrifice.
It is the spiritual that will help us learn afresh how to respect one another, how to engage in civil dialogue, and how put aside our differences for the sake of the common good.
That’s why we come to pray.Stephen Baxter, Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast 2021
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