“It’s a debacle!” This is how the current state of our federal parliament is being described by some media. I know it’s important to sell newspapers and hold a TV audience. But a “debacle”?

“Debacle” refers to a sudden downfall, a rout or a defeat. Here we refer to a “total failure”, a “right-off” or a “catastrophe.”

Now, we are aware things are not going all that well in Canberra. After all, people in the seat of Bennelong are going to the polls in a few weeks time due to the festering dual-citizenship issue.

But I get nervous when things are overstated, exaggerated or subject to relentless pronouncements of doom and gloom.

Here comments suggesting the Uniting Church has “lost its way” or is “on the way out” disturb me. Numbers are dwindling, congregations are aging and finances are getting tight. But I don’t think we are ready for the undertaker just yet!

The church in the West is going through huge changes as we roll into the “post-industrial”, “post-modern” age. What is certain is that the Uniting Church will change. Most likely we will become even smaller especially in terms of members and our capacity to fund full-time ministers. But that doesn’t mean we will lose our calling or stop being effective witnesses to grace and mercy of God.

Our focus today should not be on an impending downfall, collapse or failure. Rather our attention should be grounded on the many new opportunities God is putting before us in this rapidly changing world.

Chicken Little was an impressionable kind of guy. One day he was hit on the head by acorn. Thinking the sky was falling in, Chicken Little summoned the entire farmyard. The inhabitants started to panic. Hysteria broke out. “The sky is falling in…..the sky is falling in” they cried!

The old fox in the meadow saw what was going on. He cunningly invited all the farmyard animals into his lair to take protection from this impending disaster. The sky didn’t fall in – but the farmyard animals were never seen again.

Friends, don’t panic, don’t withdraw, don’t walk away and don’t give up. Never allow a sense of doom and gloom overpower, consume or eat you up. Rather stop and think, be attentive, get things into perspective and look for the new opportunities God is throwing up before you right now!

Rev John Barr