Three years since we moved, people still ask us how we like living in Sydney. Well, we love it – acknowledging we are blessed beyond measure with a wonderful, roomy home and a big garden for Sue to keep our local Bunnings in business with. Our lawn is big enough that our mower battery only just makes the distance, as does me when I’m pushing it. Not only do we love our home, we also love our neighbourhood.
We live in Corona Avenue, Roseville. We thought someone was pulling our leg when they told us our new address as the pandemic was still raging at its fiercest. At least we’re not number 19! The suburb next door is the bustling Chatswood, a multicultural melting pot of shops, cafes and restaurants clustered around the train interchange. There must be over 200 places you can eat, and over time we are diligently visiting as many as we can. Within walking distance of our home, we’ve devoured some fabulous Vietnamese Bahn Mi, Korean Chicken, Malaysian roti, Nepalese curries, Thai Barramundi in Chili Jam Sauce and all sorts of Chinese dishes with all sorts of regional flavors. It’s awesome, if worrying for my waistline.
(What is your favourite dish from another culture? I would love to hear – just hit reply)
One of the things we love about our new city is how multicultural it is. Sydney is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Of the total population of Greater Sydney, 39.2% of people were born overseas. In Western Sydney, it increases to 53.8%.
While Sydney and Melbourne are increasingly culturally diverse, so too is the rest of Australia – a unique and growing strength of our nation, a fact that’s also reflected in the cultural diversity of our Wesley Mission family – staff and congregations.
I’ve shared before how much Sue and I love to travel overseas, diving as deep as we can into another culture, learning from how others see and experience the world. The truth is I don’t need to get on a plane and have my passport in hand to do this. Here in Sydney, the world is on my doorstep, so to speak. I have so much to learn from friends from other cultures and faith traditions different to mine – if I have a soft and receptive heart, and open and receptive hands.
One of the things I love about my faith tradition, Christianity, is how many culturally diverse expressions it has. Overseas, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of worshipping with dancing Haitians, prayerful Cambodians, shy Solomon Islanders and exuberant Americans, to name a few. It makes sense as from its inception, Christians understood themselves to be part of a global movement, embodying and speaking good news to God’s so loved world.
The Christian vision imagines a new world where our cultural differences are not erased but celebrated as ‘the old order of things pass away’ and God makes everything new, where there is no more mourning or crying or pain. In this new world – heaven and earth coming together – people from every ‘tribe and language and people and nation’ will be gathered together by God, retaining the beauty that makes each unique.
Friends, your cultural background is a gift from God, as are all the cultures represented across our Wesley Mission family. This week, why not ask someone from another cultural background to share something they love about it. Let’s celebrate and learn from each other, and the rich and diverse tapestry God is weaving together through us.