This coming Tuesday is Australia Day. It is a day when we celebrate the formation of this country in 1901. For me this is a special Australia Day- it is a special holiday because it is my first Australia Day. I will be looking for ways in which how you celebrate Australia Day compares to how we celebrate Canada Day. I know there will be no maple leafs bur will there be concerts, fireworks, and barbecues like we had in Canada or will you do something different in Sydney?
My last Canada Day, knowing that it would be our last in Canada for at least the foreseeable future, we travelled to Ottawa, the nation's capital. How fantastic it was to sing O Canada on Parliament Hill, with thousands of others, and watch as many people from the four corners of the world took their oath of citizenship to become new citizens. People from all of our provinces and territories were there and they were all smiling, all united in the Spirit of, whatever it is, what it is to be Canadian. We felt our chests rumble, as the 21 gun salute echoed around the city. We marvelled at the precision of the soldiers as they marched on the streets. Some cheered, others applauded politely, and some were hostile as our Prime Minister spoke- but no matter where we stood politically all of us listened. We all oohed and aahed as the fireworks lit up the night sky. We realised that even though Canada was not perfect, even though along with the good things, there are some problems, Canada was still a very good place to call home.
On national holidays, we are called to do a variety of things. First we are called to remember all those who helped form our nation. We remember the indigenous peoples who were here first. We remember the pioneers who helped settle the land. We might call to mind famous politicians, athletes, entertainers, writers, activists, who have helped us have pride in our country.
Secondly, we might pause to give thanks to God for the blessings we have. We live in peace. For most of us, we enjoy a good standard of living. We have opportunities to study. Our country is beautiful and envied by many around the world. It is important on national holidays to give thanks for our many blessings.
Thirdly, we take time to remember ways that our country needs to improve. There are people who live in poverty. We know there are some people in our neighbourhoods who face racism, gender bias, ageism or other forms of discrimination. We know that work needs to be done in order that everyone is treated equally.
Fourthly, we need to look to the future. Many of us enjoy a good standard of living. We need to live in such a way so that our children can continue to enjoy life. That means we need to protect our environment and to use the resources that God has given us wisely.
Tuesday is your day Australia. May it be a day when we may all be truly proud, where we commit ourselves to make this a great home for everyone. Blessings