My Australia Day started with a hangover. It wasn’t meant to, but I had called into a friend’s place to check on a crop and there were a few other neighbours there sharing a drink in the shearing shed as they wound down at the end of the day. So of course, I had one to be sociable. And one thing led to another and before you know it, I’d stayed for tea and it was almost midnight and I had a sore head as I headed to Murchison for their 8.00am Australia Day breakfast where I was to say the opening prayer.
There were familiar faces from the pews, but now representing Lions, serving the bacon and eggs and coffee. There were more familiar faces (representing the school, the swimming pool, the organising committee) selling raffle tickets, taking photos, setting up and even emceeing the event. Our church people are great community people! So with my egg and bacon on bread and a not quite boiling instant coffee I set about getting my head in order for the task ahead. Murchison holds its Australia Day at the community swimming pool and the small crowd quickly grew as the time for starting grew closer.
After a week of grim news, it was a delight to enter into this celebration of all that is good about our community. Children from each grade of the primary school were recognised and read their input to the day. Sportspeople, community groups, photographers, and local community leaders received awards for their achievements and contributions to building and maintaining a strong and inclusive community. It was all important, but it was also not the sort of thing that would make the National news. It was good. It was positive. There was genuine joy, goodwill and gratitude in abundance.
When we think about the good and the decent and cultivate gratitude things change in our brain. Gratitude is what makes the glass half full. These days the Positive Psychology movement talks a lot about the benefits of gratitude. Many people recommend creating a Gratitude Jar and at the end of each day writing down two things for which you are grateful and depositing the note into the jar. Then when you are having a down day or at the end of the year taking these gratitude notes out and reading them.
But for now I’m just grateful for all the good and decent people who make our communities great. It reminds me of something that the Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to the young church at Philippi in which he advised them to focus on the positive. “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister