We asked Christian leaders from around Australia for one thing they’ve been thankful for in 2020. Here’s what they said.
Bobbie Houston , Co-Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church
I doubt that many around the world would contest that 2020 has not been an extremely challenging year. On behalf of my husband Brian and our church, our hearts and prayers go out to those who have suffered loss of any description.
Human nature has a tendency in trying times to focus on the pain or negative obstacles before us, yet so often those “silver linings” we all speak of, are always present. I’m personally grateful that so many have discovered newfound composure and peace in the simple things of life — the ability to see ones’ children more often, albeit amid Zooms and online challenges; the ability to walk around local neighbourhoods and reconnect with people we are often too busy to even notice or acknowledge; the ability to revisit the family table and find innovative new ways to share life and friendship.
None of us really know what 2021 will hold, but we know the One who holds the future before us
However, with many church leaders around the country, our greatest concern is for the wellbeing of those disconnected from community and fellowship. Our prayer is that with the closure of this year and the embrace of another, the Church within our nation will continue to flourish and be a beacon of light and hope for those losing sight of themselves in the darkness.
My personal prayer is that every person who proclaims faith in our beautiful caring Saviour King, Jesus, will find refreshment and will continue to hunger and thirst after the Living God. At the risk of sounding cliché, none of us really know what 2021 will hold, but we know the One who holds the future before us. Let’s take confidence in that profound truth, and lets press on with courage and vision.
Deidre Palmer, President of the Uniting Church in Australia
One thing I am grateful for from 2020 is compassion.
In this challenging year, marked by grief and multiple losses, we have drawn deeply from the compassion and love of God that sustains us.
I have been grateful for the way the Christian community has embodied God’s compassion and kindness, in walking alongside our neighbours, family and friends, who are deeply concerned about their future.
We have embodied God’s compassion in our advocacy through coalitions of churches, and non-government agencies calling for support for the most vulnerable people affected by COVID19 in Australia and internationally.
I pray God will continue to bless us with hearts to notice with compassion where there is suffering and injustice, and courage and power to act to live God’s ways of justice, love and peace in our world.
Dave Miers, Lead Pastor, City on a Hill Brisbane
At the beginning of the Covid-19 restrictions in Brisbane, our church began prayer meetings each weekday via Zoom. Once the restrictions eased, we kept going! By God’s grace, we met together over 170 times to pray in 2020. As I read back over my full prayer journal, I’m amazed at the very specific ways that God has graciously answered our prayers this year. He is faithful and abounding in steadfast love. We hope to continue to build upon these new rhythms in 2021.
We hope to continue to build upon these new rhythms in 2021.
Adam Ch’ng, Lead Pastor, Cross & Crown in Melbourne, a church plant launched in 2019.
In 2020, we thank God that the gospel cannot be chained. In Melbourne, we might have been locked down for 112 days but in ways we cannot imagine, our lockdown has actually advanced the gospel. At Cross & Crown, people have come to faith, our church has grown in number, and we have experienced a deeper unity by the Spirit. We thank God that Jesus always reigns as king and nothing can take him off his throne.
Our lockdown has actually advanced the gospel.
Jacqueline Grey, Dean of Theology, Alphacrucis College
I’m thankful for …. God’s Magnificent Creation
I live in an apartment that backs on to bushland. While this was cause for concern during the earlier bushfire season of 2020, during the lockdown it has been a source of joy. Working from home, this little eco-system in my backyard has reawakened my wonder for God’s creation. I am more attentive to the birdlife, tend with care the small garden I have cultivated, and find rest in its tranquillity. I am very grateful to have such accessibility to God’s magnificent creation and am continually reminded of our Genesis mandate to care and nurture this land.
Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah Australia, Senior Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity
The CoVID19 experience of this year has given me an opportunity to surrender my need to be actively involved in many causes. I had to learn that my best response to this global disruption was to stay at home, work online, refrain from socialising and to content myself with being in the moment. It tested me especially at the outset of the first lockdown.
Through it I found a sense of space; I enjoyed longer times to pray, to enjoy my neighbourhood
But through it I found a sense of space; I enjoyed longer times to pray, to enjoy my neighbourhood surrounds, read books neglected on my shelves, and to meaningfully have Zoom conversations with friends in far off places. I am personally grateful for this year of disruption whilst at the same time carrying a burden for those who have had much greater times of testing in terms of health and economic losses, both here and particularly in less fortunate places.
Megan Powell du Toit, Baptist Minister, writer and co-host of the With All Due Respect podcast
Prayer. The phrase “reversed thunder” from George Herbert’s poem Prayer (I) comes to mind. In the storm, prayer gives us chance to fling thunder back, to act with strange power in a time of powerlessness. The next words “ Christ-side-piercing spear” remind me that prayer was the resort of Jesus on the cross – a moment of utter weakness and world upending power. I have found myself continuously in prayer throughout this year, which for me at times has been expressed in poetry. God’s strength has met my weakness, and I have found no simple answers, but always love.
Michael Jensen, Minister St Mark’s Darling Point, author and co-host of the With All Due Respect podcast
I am thankful for the community of God’s people that I belong to, who have found new strength and new determination to live for him. It’s been the simple things: the phone call of encouragement or the joy at being reunited or the quiet act of service (a meal, or an invitation) – these things have shown their real significance and power!
Tamie Davis, writer and missionary in Tanzania
I’m thankful that the dire predictions made for Tanzania when COVID hit have largely been unfulfilled. We were told to prepare for people dying in the streets, shut down of essential services and a decline in law and order. But none of those things have happened! The hospital system is far from overrun and the country has avoided a lockdown. Everyone has a different theory, from the young demographics to the outdoor lifestyle to the 3 days of national prayer, but everyone agrees that whatever the reason, the appropriate response is thankfulness to God for his preservation.