This morning we welcome our many friends who have come into the city for the Jazz Festival.

Sydney is a great city to live in.  There are so many of the delights of God’s creation here. Notwithstanding our current drought, we have such a pleasant outdoor climate. We are entertained with so many attractions. We enjoy such freedoms of choice and lifestyle. We have such wealth and communal prosperity.  This is a great city.

We have not come to this ease and pleasure of living overnight or easily.  It is something inherited from previous generation’s hard work.  It has been built on the inheritance of a culture that valued justice and freedom, honesty and pleasure, individual rights and responsibilities.

This weekend we celebrate not only the fun excitement and sheer pleasure of Jazz but also the Queen’s birthday.  (It is so British to celebrate the Queen’s birthday on a day that is not her birthday!)  Whether we are monarchist of republican in our sympathies, whether we wish Australia was now totally independent of Britain or to retain some connectedness – there is no denying that our culture derived from the United Kingdom.

We have adapted it to fit our landscape.  We have modified it by welcoming all kinds of non-British migrants.  We have loosened the ties and entered into alliances with other nations like America.  But our nation is still the child of the British Empire – an adult independent child – but still bearing the family likeness.

So, the Jazz may come out of New Orleans but the long weekend comes out of London.  But that is modern Australia: A cultural mix in the British template.

A most important part of the British culture that we inherit is the religious basis upon which it was built.  Recently one of our Politicians ran into criticism for saying the obvious truth that

If the Arab traders that brought Islam to Indonesia had brought Islam to Australia and settled, or spread their faith, amongst the indigenous population our country today would be vastly different. Our laws, our institutions, our economy would all be vastly different.

But that did not happen. Our society was founded by British colonists. And the single most decisive feature that determined the way it developed was the Judeo-Christian-Western tradition.

As a society, we are who we are, because of that heritage.

This morning we see three cultural streams joining – the American music of Jazz, the British holiday weekend, and the Christian message.  This is Sydney 2004AD.

Without God’s word, the Bible, Sydney would not be the city that we know and love.  The Word of God has shaped our culture in the past.  It is shaping us in the present and will continue to shape our future.  As we enjoy the benefits of this city it is wise to ponder our past with thanksgiving to God and our future with prayer for his continued blessing upon us.

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