Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture

A New Heart for 2019

30 Jan 2019 - by Stephen Pickard

The Centre began 2019 with a special event in January called, Change the Heart. You will read about it here. Aboriginal Elder Aunty Jean Phillips and Common Grace led us with others across Australia in a day of remembrance, mourning and hope for the First Peoples of this Country. It was led by Common Grace's Aboriginal Spokesperson Brooke Prentis, a Wakka Wakka descendent.

Commitment to reconciliation is part of the original vision of the Centre. This is reflected in the geography of the Centre: the Campfire meeting place under the Great Cross beside a pool of running water; the Pilgrim Walk and Poles; the 30 meter Mural Wall along Kings Avenue depicting the image of the Owl, an Aboriginal symbol for the Holy Spirit; and more recently some powerful Aboriginal art. These features of the place speak to visitors of the importance of conversations; face-to-face engagement; the search for a new common wisdom; the costliness of this fundamental human project; the life giving and joyful possibilities that arise when people work together for the common good.

A new heart is a recurring and powerful theme of the Bible. The prophet Jeremiah longs for the day when the people of God will receive a new spiritual heart from God. It’s not simply individuals but a whole people that the prophet refers to. It is at once personal and social. There is no divide between private and public when it comes to matters of our fundamental orientation and outlook on life. We might wonder at times if we are living in the twilight of compassion when the human heart has grown cold and unresponsive to the plight of so many; a time where resentment and rivalry take root too easily. I am reminded of the comment of the Jewish writer Abraham Heschel who speaks of a culture that finds ‘it easy to convey resentments ‘ but ‘hard to communicate praise’.

The work of the Centre sets out on a path of thanksgiving and gratitude; bringing people together from different cultures, religions, social and political interests. Our hope is that as our vision is pursued hearts might be strangely warmed; and a new openness to others and to the Lord of heaven and earth might emerge. This is the hope we cherish for the events and programs for 2019 that we undertake in partnership with fellow travellers on the road towards the common good. We earnestly desire to find a new way together which will nurture a change of heart towards one another and the world beloved of God. We invite you to join us on this journey and bring your friends!

Grace and peace for 2019