On the whole, Australians are not especially overt in their patriotism - other than in sport, that is. We don't tend to see ourselves as having any special place or role in the world, or any particular destiny. In fact, Australian patriotism is perhaps a little coy - we're a bit surprised by how well we're doing, the 'lucky country' more than the 'I did it my way' country.
All that changes for one weekend a year, Australia Day weekend. It's almost as though for a few days, we give ourselves permission to be unrestricted in our national affection.
I quite like our muted patriotism. It's always seemed to me that it fits best with a Christian conviction that "our citizenship is heaven.” To the highly civically conscious Philippians, Paul says, your true and deepest loyalty is heaven - now that’s a citizenship worth celebrating!
But notice how the Apostle continues - "and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself." (Phil 3.20-21)
In other words, this is not escapist. The vision of the gospel is for Jesus to return and do a glorious transformation - of our weak and feeble bodies, that get sick so easily. But also of “all things”, including our nation, so that it becomes all that it is designed to be in God’s purposes.
And that hope fires our imaginations for how we as a community, and as individuals, can be the first-fruits of blessing in our own local area.