Thank you very much.
Good morning, it’s a great honour to be here with you today, ladies and gentlemen.
Firstly, thank you to Speaker Milton Dick for having us in your Parliament.
Thank you to Michelle Rowland representing the Prime Minister.
Thank you very much to our Parliamentary colleagues – Matt O’Sullivan and David Smith and to all of their staff and organisers for this splendid breakfast this morning.
I want to say thank you very much also this morning to Reverend Grant Paulson; most importantly to Danny and Leila.
At the outset, I want to say thank you Danny and Leila for your profound words and for sharing your story; you are quite frankly remarkable – lionhearted and tender-hearted.
The age in which we live can feel retributive, but you remind us that forgiveness is one of, if not the most important of qualities.
To be human is to be fallible.
To forgive is to be the best of humanity.
Please keep telling your story far and wide because our nation needs to hear it, and it reinforces our capacity for, and the necessity of forgiveness at all times, but especially in one’s darkest hour.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we pray today, it is hard not to reflect on the chain of epoch shaping events of recent times:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel.
Tensions in our own region.
And pressures which are hurting many people around the world – including our fellow Australians – on multiple financial fronts.
Today our world seems like a much darker place than what many of us have known or can remember in recent times.
For many, these have been difficult and dispiriting days.
Unquestionably, these troubling times will have tested the faith of many.
But for people of faith, it is precisely in testing times when faith matters the most.
Faith serves as a steady hand on the rudder when our boats are battered by the storms of setback and the winds of woe.
Faith keeps us on course and helps steer us through hardship.
When we are faced with adversity, faith serves important purposes.
Faith lends perspective – specifically, historical perspective.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses says:
‘Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.’
And the Book of Ecclesiastes says:
‘What has been, will be again; what has been done, will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.’
These Biblical passages urge us to maintain our sense of memory, in particular, our tragic sensibility.
With historical amnesia, our present problems feel unknown and insurmountable.
In contrast, an appreciation of past hardships lends an air of familiarity to present problems and helps us to face them.
As C. S. Lewis famously said:
‘Life has never been normal. Even those periods which we think most tranquil… turn out, on closer inspection, to be full of crises, alarms, difficulties, emergencies.’
In addition to faith lending historical perspective, faith reminds us of humanity’s capacity for endurance through suffering.
As Paul eloquently wrote in the Book of Romans:
‘Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.’
Indeed, this is one lesson we appreciate from the life of Jesus Christ.
Now, if faith encourages perspective and faith nurtures endurance, then faith also fuels our courage.
Every person of faith has a deeply personal relationship with God.
We speak to God in our own way.
We pray to God in our own way.
Yet we also have a communal relationship with God.
When we attend places of worship.
When we come together at events like this and join in prayer.
In times of trial and tribulation, when our faith is tested our courage can be dented.
At these times, our communal faith and courage helps sustain and strengthen our individual faith and courage.
This is true regardless of our faith, or where we are in the world seeking courage.
The exhausted Ukrainian soldier on the frontline draws on the faith of his fellow soldiers to revitalise his own.
The distraught Israeli mother whose child is being held somewhere in a tunnel as a hostage leverages the faith and courage of her community to sustain her own.
The struggling Australian father and mother each working two jobs to support their kids and to pay their bills look to the faith and courage of their friends and neighbours to maintain their own.
In our darkest hours, we should never underestimate the role which communal faith and courage plays in sustaining individual faith and courage.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honour to be here and share this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast with you.
Would you please join with me in prayer:
Father, may our faith lend us perspective, endurance and courage.
May our communal faith strengthen our individual faith wherever and whenever it may be tested.