Walking Together With Courage

Reflection on National Reconciliation Week 2019

Reconciliation is a journey that we must walk together with courage to create a better community.

In the 1960’s I remember as a child in primary school seeing kids throwing stones at the Indigenous students as an accepted playtime activity. At the time Indigenous people were denied citizenship and regarded as uncivilised even though they had been the custodians of this country for thousands of years.

As Christians reconciled to God we walk the path of discipleship with Jesus and our fellow Christians – to become more Christ-like and bring the light of Jesus’ compassion to those most in need. Walking together with courage we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1).

National Reconciliation Week reminds us to also work towards reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. With courage we need to be prepared to recognise that the colonial powers that came to Australia brought with them diseases, massacres and removal of children – the stolen generation, and nearly completely destroyed the first peoples. Genocide. They were denied citizenship and ownership of land. We need to acknowledge and recognise the economic benefits that many of us have received from this disruption. Not to feel guilty, but in order to work towards reconciliation with trust, truth, and yes, with much courage.

Eastern's Art Lecturer Michelle Sanders leading an arts workshop in Wongutha CAPS
Eastern’s Art Lecturer Michelle Sanders leading an art workshop in Wongutha CAPS

Reconciliation Australia CEO, Karen Mundine, puts it this way:

Reconciliation is ultimately about strong equitable relationships grounded in truth… Our nation’s past is reflected in the present, and the legacy of past traumas will continue to play out in our future unless we heal historical wounds… Truth telling is not about engendering guilt or shame in non-Indigenous Australians but about addressing past injustices and serving as an ‘end-point to a history of wrongdoing’ allowing healing and for relationships to start anew.”

At Eastern, we have the vision to produce graduates that have a good foundation and understanding of the gospel. We hope to guide our graduates to grasp the depth of God’s reconciliation with humanity and this broken world, and what that means for reconciliation with first peoples here in Australia.

Indigenous Australia and the Nation,’ is a newly developed course-work unit by Eastern starting in Semester 2. The first intensive, 10 am, Saturday 10th of August 2019, with guest lecturer, Indigenous theologian and pastor, Dr Garry Deverell, Vicar of St Agnes Anglican Parish, Black Rock, will be open to all students to attend, including our partner college, MST.

In the words of my favourite hymn, commissioned by TEAR Fund:

“Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair.

Lord, in the suffering this is our prayer,

Bread for the children, justice, joy, peace …

God of the poor, friend of the weak, give us compassion we pray.”

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