So began a history of the lost art of morality, as told by economist Ian Harper at this year’s Sydney Prayer Breakfast. Professor Harper addressed a crowd of over 500 at Sydney’s Cockle Bay, gathered to pray for diverse sectors of society. And eat breakfast. At 6:30am.
Songs of worship were led by Darlene Zschech, and the crowd sang together “Amazing Grace”, which tells the story of a life brought to its knees and literally transformed by the love of Jesus. This song was the perfect theme of a morning marked more by the love of God than by anything else – not the agendas of men or the judgements that people can be so quick to pass based on differences in their social standing. This was another theme that Professor Harper touched on.
“There is great dignity and great worth in people who find themselves at the bottom of our society,” he said. “God brought me to a place where I was forced to put my discipline and what it recommended about minimum wages, up against the dignity and the worth of ordinary people...to connect my profession to its moral foundations”.
Professor Harper pointed out that the economic discipline grew from the moralisations of ancient philosophers who were concerned with how to ethically manage the wealth of a society, and as such intrinsically contains the language with which to make a moral comment. However as secularists attempted to redefine the discipline as a science during the Enlightenment, that moral context was lost, and with it went much of society’s ability to define right and wrong. This has left us with an interesting quandary, and one which Christians are right to address by opening up the conversation and drawing on the wealth that the Bible has to offer – not just in the way of moral comment, but in providing what we are thirsty for: truth, love and forgiveness.
The Sydney Prayer Breakfast is in its third year and brings together Christians from many different walks of life to pray in unity for their city and nation. Though the largest major city in Australia, Sydney was the last to establish an annual prayer breakfast of this kind, and the event has quickly gathered momentum, calling for larger venues each year to cater for growing numbers.
Tickets for the 2013 Sydney Prayer Breakfast or to find more information visit www.sydneyprayerbreakfast.com.au. The 2013 Prayer Breakfast will be held at 6:30am on Friday the 24th of May in the Bayside Grand Hall of the Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour.
Grace Mathew is a Sydney-based writer and speaker who recently graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of International and Global Studies.
Grace's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/grace-mathew.html