Our ministry partnership with the Macarthur indigenous Church is one of great significance that we must continue to build and strengthen. To this end, I am so thankful for the opportunity to have combined our 10am Services on Sunday 7th July to mark the beginning NAIDOC week.
The theme this year is Voice, Treaty, Truth. Over the last decade there have been many positive steps forward towards reconciliation in our country. There is an increasing recognition of the damage that former government policies had on indigenous communities. There have also been conversations about how further recognition of Australia’s indigenous peoples might be included in our Constitution. Adding to all this, gladly, National Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week are increasingly prominent times in our nation’s social consciousness.
The theme, however, calls for increased listening (Voice) to indigenous people, their concerns and hurts but also their wisdom and ideas for a better future. Let us not repeat the past when people in power decided on what was best for indigenous people! This is coupled with a need for aboriginal people as the original custodians of the land to sit at the governance table (Treaty) in decision making as we recognise what has really happened in the past (Truth) and create a better future for our indigenous communities.
We can all point to prominent indigenous Australians like Ash Barty and note her success, but she is the exception to the rule. The majority of Aboriginal people are disadvantaged and thus far our governmental and social efforts to turn this situation around have not brought long-term benefit for everyone.
So I think it is appropriate this weekend that we share together in a vision as a church for reconciliation because we know the great reconciler! The Lord Jesus Christ is the one who came into the world to bring about the ultimate act of reconciliation between God and man. This vision must however be accompanied by prayer. Below is a prayer written by Bishop Arthur Malcolm (Australia’s first indigenous bishop) and his wife, Colleen. Can I ask you to pray this prayer both in your personal prayers but with others over the next week?
Bring us together as one.
Reconciled with you and
reconciled with each other.
You made us in your likeness;
You gave us your son, Jesus Christ.
He has given us forgiveness from sin.
Bring us together as one.|
Different culture, but
given new life in Jesus Christ;
Together as one, your body,
your church, your people.
Bring us together as one.
Reconciled, healed, forgiven,
Sharing you with others,
as you have called us to do.
In Jesus Christ,
let us be together as one.