Begin again… the journey of reconciliation
It begins with an invitation. Respond.
It begins with humility. Listen.
It begins with sorrow. Lament.
It begins with courage. Be brave.
It begins with a heart for justice. Act.
It begins with Jesus. Love.
No matter how it begins, the journey of reconciliation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters is an ongoing one. Again and again, we need to respond and act in a way that seeks God’s vision of healing, peace and wholeness for our world. Again and again, we need to dig deep, be brave and pursue change, embodying our role as God’s agents of reconciliation.
Sometimes this can look like small, everyday actions. (Praying, reading an Acknowledgement of Country at work meetings or church services).
Or disagreeing with others. (Calling out racism or injustice).
It can look like choosing to recognise and reflect on certain dates (Reconciliation Week, Sorry Day) and not celebrate others (January 26).
Or taking a step out in faith to bring about change, even when we feel ill-equipped to do so!
For me, asking our pastor to hold a Reconciliation Week service at our church several years ago was a small and brave step to pursue change in this area. Would he say yes? Did I even know what I was asking for? I don’t like public speaking, why on earth was I doing this?
But God’s stirring in my heart prompted me to ask nonetheless. Yes, our pastor said, we could run a service during Reconciliation Week. In fact, we could use the whole service to do so. OK – so what now?
Gathering our small group together, we set about planning a service that would be a gentle invitation to our congregation, no matter where they were at, to engage with issues of justice and reconciliation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters. (Note, our preference was for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to lead or speak at the service, but at the time this was not possible.)
We recognised that while some of us were already well on the journey, others were very new to it, and so we planned with that in mind. It was also an all-ages service so we had to make sure we engaged the kids too. We shared prayers, scripture, activities (like Tearfund’s land simulation) and learnings and it was a fruitful and moving time of reflection for all of us.
Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to learn more as a church and take action in our own ways. This has included (but is not limited to):
There is still so much more to learn, still so much work to be done. We must begin again and again, choosing to take the next step forward on our journey of reconciliation with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. It’s only together that we can bravely seek change – and pursue God’s vision of peace and love for our world.