On October 14, Australians are to vote on whether to amend our constitution. The question before us: “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

Our Synod in 2022 called on us to educate all Anglicans about the Voice and give a generous consideration to the ‘Yes’ case. The Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee (SAIPMC), chaired by Indigenous Anglican minister Michael Duckett, unanimously gave this statement:

The Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee affirms that God’s voice is sovereign over all peoples and lands and notes:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been denied a voice following European settlement in this land,
  • there are benefits and challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a recognised Voice to the Australian Parliament,
  • the passing of Motion 33/22 “First Nations Voice” by the Sydney Anglican Diocesan Synod and,
  • the “Statement on the Voice to Parliament” as affirmed by the General Synod Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of Australia.

We encourage all church members to prayerfully seek God’s voice as they search his wisdom in considering a “yes” vote for the approaching referendum.’

On Tuesday night, Synod welcomed that statement. In keeping with these decisions, we’d encourage every member of St Michael’s to read the following articles: ‘Responding generously to a generous Voice’ & ‘No, not this way’ as part of their preparation to vote. Read them mindful of 3 general principles for voting: Prayer, Love and Justice.

First, Prayer. God is in control. He rules all things – but not in a distant, mechanical way. He invites us to participate in His rule through humble petition. God graciously invites us to ask Him for wisdom, who generously gives without finding fault (James 1:5) – exactly what we need as we come to vote.

The wisdom God gives is not a simplistic set of rules. Don’t expect ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to be written in the sky.  Wisdom is the formation of our character, that we come to think God’s thoughts after him and share His passions. Ask God who rules everything – including our hearts – to make you wise as you consider your vote. 

Second, Love. Love is not optional. Love is essential to the Triune God. He doesn’t just love, He IS love (1 John 4:8). Jesus is clear on what matters most in life: to love the Lord wholeheartedly and love your neighbour selflessly. To love is to be committed to the good of another. Commitment is a strong word – invoking persistence, sacrifice, extravagance, affection, insight and action. We must vote committed to the good of God’s honour and other people thriving in His image.

Within all of us, is the natural instinct to vote for the good of myself, then my household, then my community, then my nation etc. The gospel invites us to vote lovingly for ‘the other’, with the kind of commitment I have to ‘myself’. We must vote with love, whatever the cost to ourselves.

Third, Justice. Christ’s model for prayer is that we seek for God’s kingdom to come, and His will to be done in our lives and the world. Amos paints it beautifully for us; the LORD says:

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Amos 5:21-24

God cares about justice. Biblical Justice is about having right relationships with everyone. Biblical justice means intervening to fix and restore when people aren’t treated right. Especially for those without power.

Proverbs 31:9 says: ‘Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’. Consistently through the Old Testament, the word ‘Justice’ is about taking up the care and cause of ‘the quartet of the vulnerable’: widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor. God’s desire is not for religious practice, but justice rolling on like a river – flowing from us all over the community.

In all your preparation to vote, take to heart the encouragement of Rev. Neville Naden in his address to Synod. Rev. Naden is the national Indigenous Ministry Officer of Bush Church Aid. He didn’t advocate a position on referendum. He simply reminded us, “what our core business is as the Church… to proclaim Christ, Him crucified, buried, risen and coming again. Because that’s where hope lies”.

In Him,

Mark Smith
Senior Minister | 8am, 9:45am & 7pm

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