The annual Thanksgiving for Creation service was held in Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, New South Wales, on Sunday, 8th October, 2006. The Address was given by the Dean of Newcastle, The Very Rev’d Graeme R. Lawrence OAM.

The position of leadership the Dean holds in the Anglican Church in Australia makes his remarks all the more valuable to those of us fighting the animals’ cause.

A number of people involved in local animal and environmental groups took a part in the service, and Mark Pearson, Executive Director of Animal Liberation NSW read the well-known parable of The Good Samaritan from St. Luke’s Gospel. This was the theme of the Dean’s Address. Through this simple story Jesus leaves us in no doubt as to how to be a good neighbour to another in trouble.

This is what the Dean had to tell us:

There are four people in the story.

There is the Traveller, journeying down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He is assaulted and robbed, and left for dead. He is unable to help himself at that point.

Then comes the Priest. He sees the half-dead man, but he is busy, pre-occupied, and just doesn’t want to get involved.

Then along comes the Levite. Sees the traveller, – his thought is Dead, I guess. Nothing I can do!

And finally, along comes the Samaritan. Not considered quite as respectable as the other two, and belonging to an ethnic group which was not acceptable to some others in that society. He was the one who did all he could to help.

Perhaps, suggested the Dean, we are all in one or other of these groups at times.

The Victim helpless to change a situation

The Busy Person not wanting to be involved

There is nothing I can do type

The Helper I haven’t got much, but I can do something

Central to the teaching of Jesus is the attitude to look around at life and say, I can, and so the one who is held out to us as an example to follow is the Samaritan who puts aside his past, his prejudices and simply acts for the good of another.

The whole history of the Church shows us men and women whose hearts and minds had been warmed by God’s love and who set out to share that warmth with others.

If Jesus and his followers lived in challenging times, so do we. We live in a world where war is ever with us. Violence is a daily occurrence. Poverty and disease are a staple diet in the lives of millions. Add to these problems, environmental concerns, the treatment of human beings (think of Guantanamo Bay), and think of the treatment of animals. We need to be deeply concerned for them, particularly for animals caught up in our economic system the live sheep exports, the factory farmed pigs, the battery hens. We need to be willing to care for this part of God’s creation as well as keeping a focus on poverty and the needs of people.

Faced with the suffering of other beings, we can choose to be helpless, to be too busy, to simply ignore, or we can HELP, in a spirit of love of the whole created order born out of thanksgiving for life, life which has been nurtured by love for God and one another.