Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch pew sheet 17 July 2022
Fourteen years ago tomorrow (if you read this online) or yesterday (if you’re reading in church), I became an Australian citizen. I don’t know why I waited so long to apply, perhaps the Permanent Resident stamp in my UK passport made it easy enough for me to swan in and out of the country for the first thirteen years of my new life. I had to take a test to demonstrate that I had assimilated. Lots of sports questions of course. I knew that Don Bradman had poisoned Phar Lap, and that Ron Barassi was the first Prime Minister after Federation. At length, I trotted off to Brisbane City Hall where Lord Mayor Campbell Newman did the magic, sealed with a patriotic, rousing rendition of the Seekers’ We Are Australian. Leisa watched on from the balcony, tears in her eyes as she considered that I was less at risk of deportation now. The other new Australians wore suits and ties, I sported a t-shirt bearing an unauthorised coat of arms where the kangaroo and emu were on fire. Leisa’s sister’s family gave me an Akubra.
I haven’t bothered to renew my UK passport. But I don’t need to, because I’m on my second Australian passport now.
St Paul tells the new Christians in Ephesus (Ephesians 2) that once they were “excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” They didn’t take a test to put this situation right, Jesus took it for them. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Except for this time each year, when iCal reminds me of the anniversary, I don’t stop to think that once I wasn’t Australian. It’s part of me now, like honouring ANZAC and barracking for Australia at cricket and rugby, especially against the auld enemy. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
She’ll be right!