Well, it’s Australia Day again. I’ve got friends coming over for a barbecue and a swim in the backyard tonight, but this morning I want to reflect on something that is very important but often ignored in this great south land – our Christian Heritage. Australia was founded with a rich Christian heritage, just like America, but while a large number of Americans still celebrate their Christian heritage, we in Australia seem to ignore, forget and downplay ours. It seems in this age of political correctness that Jesus has become something to be ashamed of.
Charles Francis QC argues that it is important not to forget our heritage in his article AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Why Australia’s Christian heritage matters. He mentions, as many do, Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernández de Quirós, who claimed the yet undiscovered lands of the south – naming them “La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo” which means the south land of the Holy Spirit. Francis points out the importance of being thankful to God for his provision over the last 200 years, in which we have been considered in comparrison to other nations “the lucky country”.
The first Christian service on Australian soil was held on 3rd February 1788. Richard Johnson preached on Psalm 116:12, which says “What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?“
Everyone is familiar with the horrific mis-treatment of the Aboringal people in Tasmania -and in fact all of Australia, but few know that when a group of Aborigines first made their way to Hobart, Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur (a man of strong Christian faith) set an example to all by extending the hand of friendship to them, and providing food and shelter. From his example, the Aboriginal people were given official protection and free legal representation when necessary .
Now, since Aussies generally don’t like to take ourselves too seriously, for too long, I’m going to finish with a quote from ‘The Aussie Bible (well bits of it anyway)’ by Kel Richards.
One day a bunch of lawyers was hangin around listening to Jesus. They’d come from just about every township in Galile shire, and Jerusalem shire, and from the Big Smoke – from Jerusalem.
God gave Jesus tons of power to heal the sick. But then, blow me down, some blokes were trying to get their paralysed mate on a stretcher to Jesus, but it was like a Grand Final crowd that day and they couldn’t barge through. So they dragged their mate on the stretcher up onto the roof, yanked off a few tiles and then lowered his down smack in the middle of the room.
When Jesus saw how much trust in him there was, he said to the paralysed bloke, “Old chap, your sins are forgiven”
The lawyers snered, “This boofhead thinks he’s God! Only God can forgive sins!”
But Jesus knew what was going on inside their noggins, and he said to them, “So, that’s what you think, is it? Just watch this. Which of these is easier: to say to this bloke ‘Your sins are forgiven’? or to say to him ‘You’re cured, get up and walk’? Now this ought to show you that I have the power to forgive sins.” He turnd to the paralysed bloke and said “Hop up, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
Straight off, the bloke stood up, and picked up his stretcher. The crowd parted in front of him like the Red Sea in front of Moses, and he set off for his home, saying how terrific God was! Everyone was staggered and said, “Well! Starve the lizards! How about that!” 
HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!
- Charles Francis QC, AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Why Australia’s Christian heritage matters. (http://www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2008mar01_a.html. News Weekly.
- Graham McLennan, Australia’s Christian Heritage. (http://www.outbackpatrol.com.au/heritage.htm) Australia’s Outback Patrol
- Kel Richards, The Aussie Bible (well bits of it anway). Bible Society NSW. August 2003.
- Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.