This week is National Reconciliation Week, a time for us to acknowledge the failures of the past, the hurt that still exists for our First Nations peoples and to look to the future to improve equality and bring lasting reconciliation for all people of Australia.
The theme for Reconciliation Week this year is ‘In This Together’. We have heard this idea a lot over the past few months in connection with the COVID-19 Pandemic – it is our collective responsibility to keep everyone safe - In This Together.
Reconciliation Week provides an opportunity for all Australians to learn about the past, to listen to the story of Indigenous Australians with open hearts and to move forward together. I have often heard people say ‘that I didn’t participate in the hurt, so why do I have to be sorry’, or that some actions were taken with the best of intentions to improve the lives of children in particular. Unfortunately, neither of these statements allow for the hurt that was done to be voiced and listened to. It is only when we listen carefully to the full story that we are able to be truly sorry, to find healing and to work towards reconciliation.
In John’s Gospel chapter 17 Jesus is praying for his disciples and says ‘may they be one as you and I are one’. I believe that God wishes for all people to act as one, one collective heart and mind, listening attentively, responding compassionately, striving for justice, peace and reconciliation of all people. It is only when every person is valued for who they are, their culture, their heritage, their past and their future contributions that we can be one together. There is so much of the traditional culture of our First Nations peoples that has been lost over the past 250 years. We must continue to work together to protect traditional land and sacred sites, to support projects to renew Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and culture, and to look carefully at our policies to ensure just and equitable access to essential services, healthcare and education across our whole nation.
The Anglican Church Southern Queensland has produced a collection of resources to help communities and families acknowledge Reconciliation Week and explore ways to participate in the ongoing journey to collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures. It provides links to books, films and music which help to tell the story and enrich our understanding of culture and reconciliation. It can be found via this link
We are ‘In This Together’ and we all can play our part in building a positive and reconciled future for all peoples. I invite you to pray with me:
We give thanks for the First Nations Peoples of this land, and all who have come to call Australia home. We acknowledge the past injustices that have been endured, and the struggles that are still being faced today.
We ask for your forgiveness for the wrongs that have been done, particularly with the removal of people from their lands, the children who were taken from their families and the disregard for the value of Indigenous peoples and culture.
Strengthen us to be the people you call us to be, whole, forgiven, reconciled.
Help us to be as one, with you and with each other; working together to move forward for a just and equal Australia.
Help us to celebrate the richness of diversity in our school, in our community and in our nation.
May we never forget,
May we always be grateful,
May we ask for forgiveness,
May we strive to be one as you are one with us,
We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
We invite you to listen to Archbishop Phillip Aspinall's message for Reconciliation Week.
Blessings for a restful weekend and a joyous new week.
Rev’d Sharon Mitchell