Kay-od mee-leh foyle-cha! [céad míle fáilte]
Mine Croyceo y bawb! [Mae ‘na groeso i bawb]
Welcome to Harmony Day!
I just welcomed you here in three different languages [the first version is a phonetic version to help you pronounce it] because they all represent cultures that are part of my identity. I have an English dad, an Irish Mum and I grew up mostly in Wales. I love the way those three cultures have influenced my life by giving me an understanding of different ways of doing life, different traditions, learning different languages and different foods. Growing up I learnt Irish dancing, we ate a lot of traditional English food- think Yorkshire puddings, toad in the hole [which is not a toad] and jam roly-poly and I got to learn Welsh and French at school.
Most of you will have a combination of different nations in your ancestry. Perhaps you were born overseas? Or you have parents born overseas. Maybe you too speak another language.
Harmony Day is a national day of cultural respect and acknowledgement to all those who call Australia home, from the indigenous peoples to those born thousands of kilometres away. It is about creating a culture where everyone belongs, everyone is valued and where we understand and respect our diversity and recognise it makes us stronger. It is a day where our message is “Everyone belongs”.
There are about 300 different ancestries in Australia, all contributing a part of their culture to make Australia the incredibly rich and diverse country it is. Imagine an Australia without sushi, curries, balinese style resorts, other cultures traditions, music or literature? Australians are at their best when we are inclusive and when we value people because of their differences. Instead of looking at differences as negatives, we need to look at differences as positives.
A guy called Peter wrote about harmony many years ago when he challenged people saying “Finally, everyone must live in harmony, be sympathetic, love each other, have compassion, and be humble.”
Peter hung around Jesus 2000 years ago and knew this was God’s design for humanity, to live in harmony with God and each other. Trouble was, there was a group of people, the Jews, who really felt that they were truly the people who belonged to God. They looked down on other nations. In fact it was some of these people who rejected Jesus and killed him. Peter and his friends were in Jerusalem after Jesus had risen from the dead. There they experienced the power of God’s Holy Spirit on them. What happened next was a miracle. Peter and his friends stood and spoke to a huge crowd of people from many different nations who were gathered in Jerusalem for a festival. As the nations heard the men speak, they realised that every different nation heard their own language, even though Peter and the others didn’t know any other languages. God had given them a powerful gift to proclaim a powerful message. By speaking in many languages the message was clear. “Everyone Belongs”. God sent a clear signal to all nations that God is a God who wants everyone to belong and he wants us to be people who help others belong too.
On that day, Peter spoke a gospel message to the different nations represented by the crowd. When they heard that Jesus came into the world to show us how to live in harmony with God, that he died to bring us into relationship with God, three thousand people committed their lives to him! Immediately those Christians who had found harmony with God began to build a healthy community where others could belong too. Read more about it in the book of Acts in the bible in Chapter 2.
It is my prayer that Harmony Day gives us an opportunity to reflect and act upon improving harmony in our relationships with each other and with God. Imagine what a blessed community we would be!
Many blessings, Pastor Fi