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An Easter Message from Bishop Mark

God speaks personally and powerfully

The astounding success of the ChatGPT, which has been downloaded over a billion times since it was launched in November 2022, reminds us that not all words are personal.

The artificial intelligence application trawls the internet to generate text in response to questions and requests from users. Students can ask it to complete assignments and preachers, this one included, have asked it to write sermons.

What ChatGPT does, it can do quite well.  The latest version passed the exam for admission to the American Bar Association in the top ten per cent of applicants.  The sermon it prepared for me was clear and concise.

At the same time, I believe there is something ultimately unsatisfying about speech that is generated in this way. In large part, that’s because we realise there is no person behind the words who will commit to standing by them. So ChatGPT can explain the causes of climate change, but it will never commit to making any lifestyle changes. It can write a sermon, but it will never commit to practising what it’s preached. It can make a prediction, but it will never commit to making a promise.

In contrast Easter reminds us that when God speaks to us He makes a personal commitment.

“It is finished” Jesus says from the cross on Good Friday. Those words are more than a bare statement of fact. They are a personal declaration that in His death Jesus has done all that is needed to bring life and forgiveness to everyone who trusts in Him.

“Peace be with you,” Jesus says to His friends on the evening of Easter Day. Those words are more than a throw away greeting. They are a personal declaration that in His resurrection Jesus has laid the foundation for a new creation free from everything which distorts and damages this present one.

This Easter churches are across the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn will be gathering to hear God speak, and to respond with our thanks and prayers.  You are very welcome to join with us.