​A chaplain ministers to defence personnel in
Picture courtesy www.defenceanglicans.org.au


This heading and the following article, by Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, appeared in the Herald Sun on Saturday 30 March 3013.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,'' the Gospel of St John tells us (John 1:5).

This is true of all time, and especially true as we remember the events of Easter.

Good Friday is the remembrance of how Jesus died a cruel death on the cross - a slow and agonising torture in total humiliation. It might have seemed to some that the light of his message would have been extinguished that day, but instead it was the seed bed for his message of love and hope to the whole world.

Members of the Australian Defence Force deployed to Afghanistan have been notified that they will return to Australia by the end of the year. The improvement in the security in that nation and the advancement of the condition of women and girls are matters that Australians can be proud we have contributed to. When violence and war give way to peace we surely see the light of God's love at work. As it was with Jesus, such change for the better does not come without sacrifice. I hope that we can continue to uphold the Australian troops and their families in our prayers as they have the fervent hope that their loved ones will come back to Australia without further incident or harm. Equally our prayers are needed for peace and equity to gain a firm foothold in Afghanistan.

Closer to home, many challenges remain for Australians as we shape our society in accordance with those great principles of participation and opportunity.

There is no question that our society shines brightly as a beacon of freedom, opportunity and the rule of law in the countries of our region. It is painful to see the desperation of people who have left all behind them in a bid to come to this country for a new life. Apart from circumstance of birth, education and opportunity that may enable a fast track for some, refugees languish in offshore detention until finally processed and most often given entry into our community, subsequently making a valuable contribution. There are profoundly moral issues that we must engage with in considering these matters. I hope that the national debate about immigration and the treatment of asylum seekers - that we will surely have in the lead up to the federal election - will be informed and compassionate.

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