AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – AUSTRALIAN NEWS 22nd JANUARY 2014
- GREENS TO AGAIN TRY AND SCRAP LORD’S PRAYER IN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT
- CHRISTIAN HERITAGE SUNDAY – 2nd FEBRUARY 2014
- ANGELINA JOLIE DIRECTING MOVIE IN AUSTRALIA ABOUT POW REDEEMED BY JESUS
- A NIGHT OF PRAYER FOR AUSTRALIA
GREENS TO AGAIN TRY AND SCRAP LORD’S PRAYER IN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT
The Lord’s Prayer in Federal Parliament is an anachronism, according to Greens senator Richard di Natale, who is calling to have the prayer scrapped. The acting Greens leader has announced that when Parliament returns in February, he will move to end the reading of prayers at the start of each sitting day. He will ask the Senate’s Procedure Committee to amend the standing orders and look to his Greens colleague Adam Bandt to do the same in the Lower House. “We have a very clear separation between church and state in this country and the fact that we say the Lord’s Prayer in the Australian Parliament, it is an anachronism,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Senator di Natale said that “modern” Australia was made up of people who had different ideas about religion. “We are here to represent everybody. We’re here to represent people of all faiths and people who don’t have a strong religious faith,” he said. Senator di Natale, who describes himself as a lapsed Catholic, says he had had an issue with prayers in Parliament since his first day as a senator in 2011. “It was quite jarring,” he said. But he has been prompted to comment this week after government curriculum reviewer Kevin Donnelly argued that schools were too secular.
“When you look at parliaments around Australia – they all begin with the Lord’s Prayer. If you look at our constitution, the preamble is about God,” Dr Donnelly said on Saturday. Senator di Natale has not yet talked to Labor and Liberal MPs about his proposition but said he was looking forward to discussing the issue with his colleagues. “When the prayers are read there are a lot of people who are silent or who are thinking of other things,” he said. Federal Parliament has been reciting prayers at the start of each sitting day since 1901. Today, this includes a preamble and then the Lord’s Prayer. Since 2010, sittings have also begun with an acknowledgement of country.
This is not the first time the issue of parliamentary prayer has been raised. In 1997 former Greens leader Bob Brown unsuccessfully tried to remove the preamble and Lord’s Prayer. In 2008, former speaker Harry Jenkins led a similarly failed bid. Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said the government had “no plans to change the standing orders”. Government Senate leader Eric Abetz said he strongly supported keeping the Lord’s Prayer, arguing it was “a very rich part of our cultural tradition and an acknowledgement by the Parliament of its responsibilities”. “The latest Green attack is part of their ongoing attempt to rewrite our history and deny our heritage,” Abetz said.
A spokeswoman for Labor’s Senate leader, Penny Wong, indicated her party did not appreciate the lack of consultation on the issue so far. “We don’t intend to negotiate with other senators through the media,” the spokeswoman said. Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus, who is Jewish, pointed to the US model where the House and Senate’s opening prayers can be led by guest chaplains of many faiths. “Many Australians have religious beliefs. Rather than abolishing the Lord’s Prayer we should consider adopting the practice of the US Congress,” he said.
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE SUNDAY – 2nd FEBRUARY 2014
Churches across Australia are being encouraged to celebrate our Nation’s Christian Heritage on Sunday 2nd February. This is the second year this day has been celebrated in our nation and is a time to reflect on our Christian foundations and recognize the hand of God in the shaping of Australia. In particular, it is a time to celebrate the first known preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on Australian soil. This took place on 3 February, 1788, the first Sunday after the First Fleet had anchored in Sydney Cove with its cargo of 780 British convicts as well as many Bibles and Christian books.
The preacher was the Rev Richard Johnson who preached to his congregation of newly-arrived convicts, free settlers and marines on a grassy hill underneath a ‘great tree’ as there were no buildings at the time. Johnson had been appointed as chaplain to the First Fleet and the new colony when originally there was no plan to send a chaplain. The change was made because of action taken by a small group of clergy and laymen. They nominated the committed Richard Johnson and were able to persuade Prime Minister William Pitt to appoint him as chaplain.
It is noteworthy that that small group of clergy and laymen included the great social reformer, William Wilberforce who eventually brought about the abolition of the African slave trade in 1807 as well as the Rev John Newton the former slave-ship captain who wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. We can be thankful that God used such men to lay a spiritual foundation for Australia. They are a very real part of our Christian heritage which National Christian Heritage Sunday encourages us to cherish and celebrate. National Christian Heritage Sunday takes place on the first Sunday of February each year to be as close as possible to the actual anniversary date of 3 February 1788.
National Heritage Sunday is the vision of Dr Graham McLennan, Chairman of the National Alliance of Christian Leaders. He is also a Christian historian and his recent article, ‘Australia’s Christian Heritage’, was sent out across our network last week as our January feature article. Please visit the National Christian Heritage Sunday website at http://www.nchs.net.au/ for further details on the day itself or http://www.chr.org.au/ for more general details of the history of Christianity in Australia. Perhaps Pastors may even wish to preach on the same theme that Richard Johnson used “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12)
Source: National Alliance of Christian Leaders
ANGELINA JOLIE DIRECTING MOVIE IN AUSTRALIA ABOUT POW REDEEMED BY JESUS
Louis Zamperini, the famed Olympian runner (the “Tornado from Torrence”) and WWII POW, severely tortured by the Japanese during his time in a horrific prison camp, is also known for his Christian testimony after being saved via a Billy Graham crusade. After his conversion, Zamperini-now in his 90s-gladly gave up his drinking and deep anger and devoted his live to preaching the Word and sharing the Gospel of Christ’s love and redemption. Zamperini’s life has garnished so much attention over the years, Laura Hillenbrand, the author of “Seabiscuit,” recently published his biography, called “Unbroken,” which has just been made into a film by the same name.
Embarking on a career as a film director, Angelina Jolie chose “Unbroken” to direct. While filming in Australia, Jolie was quoted as saying she and Zamperini have grown to be “close friends.” What that might mean is anyone’s guess. But considering Zamperini, the charismatic son of Italian immigrants, is a dedicated Christian, there is no doubt he may very well have been placed in Jolie’s life for “just a time as this.” Keep praying for the Hollywood movie industry, and it’s actors and directors, who need Christ every bit as much as Zamperini needed Him in his darkest hour.
A NIGHT OF PRAYER FOR AUSTRALIA
The Australian Prayer Network is again this year calling its member Churches, Prayer Groups and Individuals to a night of prayer for our nation to be held on Saturday 25th January 2014, the eve of Australia Day. In 2013 tens of thousands of Australians in local communities across our nation joined in this national night of prayer. Timing and venue for each gathering across the nation is at the discretion of the organiser and does not have to be registered with us.
Prayer points which can be used on the night have been prepared and may be downloaded from our website at http://www.ausprayernet.org.au/ or requested to be sent to you as an email attachment by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Australian Prayer Network