Weather forecasters tell us 2019 is shaping up to be hottest and perhaps the driest year on record. That’s a worry, a real worry.

This year is a critical one. The British are embroiled with Brexit while the United States is dealing with an impasse concerning the border wall and the issue of immigration. The Middle East remains a cauldron while the largest humanitarian crisis in the world takes place in Yemen where 22 million people face ongoing war, hunger and disease. More than 85,000 children have already died in the conflict.

Here in NSW we will be going to the polls twice this year with a state election and a federal election. Campaigning has already begun with one major party promising to “deliver our plan” while the other is calling for “a fair go for Australia”.

Minor parties want to “bring back Australian values” while others advocate for “a sustainable Australia” and “a future for us all”. Other fringe parties promise to “make Australia great”, “restore nationhood and wealth for Australians” or be “a common-sense fair alternative”.

It can be hard to make sense of all this. As Christians we live in the world and we are called to be responsible, compassionate citizens. Some religious groups choose to opt out by creating protective walls around them. But Jesus is clear. We are to go into the world and we are to bear witness to God’s love, mercy, justice and peace.

In other words, as Christians we are to engage fully in the world. We are to participate in the political process. We should demonstrate concern for injustice. We should act to do something about those things that scar the environment, disfigure human life and impede the potential of others.

A cartoon I have not forgotten shows a person struggling for life in the water. On the dock a pious observer runs to help. He takes out a big black Bible and throws it to the fellow who is drowning. “Here”, he says, “this will save you”.

The Christian faith offers salvation to all people. Indeed, Jesus is “Saviour” – the one who comes to “rescue”. But this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This is not just a formula or a simple creed that has to be learnt and believed.

Being a Christian means living and acting in the world. It means bearing witness to God’s love, mercy, justice and peace. Its means being Christ to others.

In 2019 what does this mean for you?

Rev John Barr