Rituals for Faith and Growth

By Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain

In the lead-up to a conversation about Christian rituals with Year 7 students, I asked them about the rituals associated with birthdays in their families. As well as hearing about cakes and presents that are a common feature for many of us, we also heard about an elaborate scavenger hunt with riddles and clues that lead to presents. Ms Lonsdale also reported that Christmas pudding is served on her birthday!

Humans rely on rituals to mark the passage of time, to make meaning of our experiences, and to reflect upon and process significant events.

Three rituals we share as an Anglican school are Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion. Baptism is a ritual of initiation that is open to everyone. The symbols of water, oil, and candles signify being renewed, being welcomed into the faith, and anointed to live as a follower of Jesus, bearing his light in the world. Baptism can happen at any age.

Confirmation involves recognition through a prayer, prayed by the Bishop, that God confirms his love and grace in our lives as we confirm our belief and trust in God. Confirmation is a ritual for teenagers and adults who have come to a decision about faith for themselves.

Students and staff undergo confirmation in The Chapel at Radford College in 2022.

Holy Communion is a ritual given to us by Jesus in which the everyday symbols of bread and wine become a source of spiritual nourishment. Each term, secondary students are invited to participate in Holy Communion.

Rev. Andy and I can also arrange for services of Baptism, admission to Holy Communion and Confirmation to take place in the Radford Chapel. If you are interested in any of these rituals, please email me. We’ve had some enquiries about Confirmation, and it would be good to know if others are interested too.

This short video produced by Anglican Schools Australia discusses the rituals of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion.

Reflection on the Referendum

At the recent Anglican School Australia conference held in Canberra, we heard from Signatory and Advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart Thomas Mayo and artist and speaker Canon Glenn Loughrey on the case for voting yes in the upcoming referendum. Both speakers were met with enthusiastic applause. The conference delegates then voted to affirm the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Voice to Parliament.

After his presentation, Thomas Mayo took questions from the floor. What struck me was the fact that one person said the proposed referendum did not go far enough, and the next person said that it went too far! Thomas gave succinct and convincing answers to both questions. Thomas’ speech and recitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart at Dirrum Dirrum Festival in 2022 can be accessed here.

Thomas Mayo speaking at Dirrum Dirrum Festival at Radford College in 2022.

The Anglican Church of Australia has a constituted body called the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council (NATSIAC) that functions in a similar way to the proposed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

NATSIAC and the Public Affairs Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia have compiled a list of resources for Anglican parishes, schools and organisations titled, Understanding and Responding to the Referendum to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. It can be accessed here.

May the God of hope and restoration be present in our conversations, prayers and action as individuals and communities seek justice, reconciliation and a way forward over the coming month and into the future.

A Thanksgiving for Australia, a prayer by NATSIAC member Rev. Lenore Parker

God of Holy Dreaming, Great Creator Spirit,
from the dawn of creation you have given your children
the good things of Mother Earth.
You spoke and the gum tree grew.
In the vast desert and dense forest,
and in cities at the water’s edge,
Creation sings your praise.
Your presence endures
as the rock at the heart of our Land.
When Jesus hung on the tree
you heard the cries of all your people
and became one with your wounded ones:
the convicts, the hunted, the dispossessed.
The sunrise of your Son coloured the earth anew,
and bathed it in glorious hope.
In Jesus we have been reconciled to you,
to each other and to your whole creation.

Lead us on, Great Spirit,
as we gather from the four corners of the earth;
enable us to walk together in trust
from the hurt and shame of the past
into the full day which has dawned in Jesus Christ.