James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”
Christian faith motivated many of the early settlers to Australia to build better relationships with Aboriginal people. While the history of interaction between Christianity and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia is often painful and disturbing – there are stories of faith and justice to be discovered. The book “One Blood” by John Harris captures a number. Stories like the advocacy of Bathurst Street Baptist Pastor, Rev. John Saunders. Saunders advocated publicly with messages such as in his sermon on 14th October 1838. Here he urged his congregation to realise “that Christians should think rightly, speak rightly, and act rightly” in respect to justice for first Australians.
Each year there is a week of prayer from 27 May and 3 June for reconciliation. These National Reconciliation Week dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey—the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum and the Mabo decision. The week is an opportunity to connect with the broader community to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.
Christians often ask what more might be done to support first Australians. Over years there have been significant efforts made with seemingly poor outcomes. Can I suggest we can start with listening to understand? It would be good if we grew in empathy rather than judgement. Next year, as a church, we will together explore how we grow as Australians together. You could begin now! You could read the book “One Blood”, it is available on Kindle. There is an incredible Christian based website https://australianstogether.org.au/. Here you will find helpful information, inspirational video, guides, and recommended events to connect to. To raise awareness, get involved online with the #standtogether campaign. We don’t have to wait until next year. We could begin now.