It is always a privilege to preach the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at funerals. But when the funeral is of such a legendary figure as Slim Dusty, we have the opportunity to speak of the importance of Jesus to our whole nation.
Slim Dusty was rightly honoured by our community with a State Funeral. He was a man of all people. In his ballads and songs, he captured not only the imagery but also the mood of the country.
Earlier in the week I had the great privilege of leading a three-day retreat with the curates of the Diocese and the recent graduates of Moore College. There were over a hundred present. Fine young men and women, well educated, keen for the spread of the gospel of our Lord, prayerful, engaging and caring. It was a pleasure to be with them and a great encouragement for the future of our dioceses.
I understand that across Australia there are 3800 ordained ministers of whom only 200 are under the age of 40. This is not quite as worrying a statistic as it may at first appear. The earliest someone can be ordained a priest is 25 years old so the median age of priests is 45 years old. Furthermore, the average age of entry for the four-year Moore College course is 28.
However, it is a worrying statistic when you find out that there were about a hundred of them away with us this week. Add to this the number in the Diocese of Sydney who are more than three years out of college and so not with us, and you realise the growing gap between the Diocese of Sydney and the rest of the Anglican Church of Australia.
This weekend and next I am again away at one of the recruiting conferences called Club 5. These are held in Kurrajong. This weekend it will be attended mainly by folk from the Western part of Sydney. The long weekend will be attended mainly by students and ethnic minority groups, especially our Asian brothers and sisters. Please pray that God will raise up many labourers from this work. It is only as we can give them the vision of winning our city, nation and the world for Christ that we can pass on the baton to the next generation.