As we come to the end of another year we want to say,
‘To God be the glory for the great things he has done!’
This year there have been numerous attacks on our Judeo-Christian values. These are the values that our nation is built on and have made Australia a great place to live. Nation-wide in 2013, we have witnessed repeated attempts to limit our religious freedoms, to redefine marriage and family, and to ignore the sanctity of human life.
But God has brought us through!
While not every battle has resulted in the victory that we had hoped for, we know that ultimately God’s eternal plans and purposes cannot be changed. And so we can say in full confidence with the apostle Paul,
“Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Corinthians 15:57).
Through it all we believe your prayers and willing response to our further calls to pray and to act have made a huge difference for Australia. For example, many have faithfully written to or visited our leaders and we thank you for this. Here are three examples of amazing ways that God answered prayer in 2013.
The Federal Election Miracle of Prayer – 7 September, 2013. Praise God that 100 days have passed since the federal election and same-sex ‘marriage’ hasn’t been introduced as Kevin Rudd had promised voters.
A Victory for Marriage – Media Releases – 12 December, 2013. And yet there are parts of the High Court’s judgment on the ACT Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 which are very concerning. This needs to be an on-going matter for our prayers! In the light of the latest developments please pray that the federal Government will preserve marriage in Australia as between a man and a woman as God intended.
And so we want to say a big thank you for your fellowship and partnership in making a stand for freedom, family and life in 2013. You are a vital part of the ministry of the Canberra Declaration.
Now as we focus on Christmas, let us give thanks for the freedom we still have in Australia to openly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in our churches and in public places. We all have experienced that great Aussie tradition of Carols by Candlelight in local parks. Here we’d like to highlight another, perhaps lesser known, Christmas tradition – the performance of The Messiah, a choral masterpiece written by George Frideric Handel in 1741. This is sung at Christmas in different public venues across Australia including the Sydney Opera House.
A recent video clip by The Australian gives us a delightful glimpse of this Christmas tradition. It features the Combined Church Choirs in Sydney who have performed The Messiah for over 70 years in the Town Hall.
Rehearsal for the 2013 performance of Handel’s Messiah in Sydney’s Town Hall.
First performed in 1742, the words of the 53 movements of Handel’s Messiah are entirely from the Bible. One writer has said that the message of TheMessiah, “has probably done more to convince thousands of mankind that there is a God about us than all the theological works ever written.“
The words of the 11th movement are from the book of Isaiah, “The people that walked in the darkness have seen
a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined“ (Isaiah 9:2).
Isaiah saw a light coming and 800 years later the apostle
John was able to testify that the light had come! That light
is Jesus who shines into the darkness of our sinful lives and transforms us from the inside out. But sadly not everyone wants his light. Isaiah spoke so accurately when he said that the darkness would not understand the light. The simple fact is, we live in an increasingly dark world – a world which is becoming less and less interested in the truths of Scripture and more and more tolerant of spiritual darkness – and this includes Australia.
Does this mean we resign ourselves to do nothing and let darkness run its course? Definitely not! The 12th movement continues with these familiar words prophesied by Isaiah, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called: Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!“ (Isaiah 9:6).
In this verse Isaiah speaks of the first coming of Jesus when, two thousand years ago, God sent his Son into the world as a human baby. It was God’s plan that Jesus would live among us as a suffering servant and later die for the sins of the world. God gave his one and only Son to rescue a lost mankind from sin. But also in this verse Isaiah speaks of the second coming of Jesus which would bring to complete fulfillment all that God purposed in his first coming. At his first coming He did not come to reign on earth but to reign instead in the hearts of all who believe in him. At his second coming, Jesus will return to establish a new and perfect government on earth over which he will reign foreveras King Jesus, our Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. This is good news for our weary, war-torn world. Hallelujah!
During the London premiere of TheMessiah in 1743, King George II of England stood to his feet during the opening lines of the magnificent “Hallelujah Chorus“. In doing so, he openly acknowledged that he came under the reign of Almighty God, the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev 19:16). This began a tradition that has remained to this day with whole audiences standing to their feet during the Hallelujah chorus.
This Christmas please pray a blessing on our leaders and their families – Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten as well as former leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Pray also for your own state and local leaders and any others God has put on your heart that they might welcome “the true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9).
The Canberra Declaration is the work of many people and organisations.
The administration of the initiative is being supported by the Australian Christian Values Institute and Australian Heart Ministries.
A big thank you to those who have already contributed! Every donation makes such a difference.
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