by Tom Brennen
Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1).
There is a popular refrain in the Christian church: ‘Martin Luther had no desire to reform society, only the church’. Resultingly, we do not read much from the founder of our church about addressing social injustices in our society. For many years, we have deprived ourselves of encouragement to continue the work of bringing justice to the world, a work pioneered by Jesus Christ.
As an educator in Lutheran schools, I was taught much about the first Lutheran schools in Australia*. These schools were not well equipped, but they met the educational needs of the first Lutherans arriving in Australia, focusing on maintaining the faith, teaching the German language and other core areas of study. From these humble beginnings, we find ourselves the education providers to many students across our nation in very well-resourced schools.
This narrative forgets that the first Lutheran school in Australia was not for ‘Lutherans’. Early Lutheran missionaries set up schools for Indigenous Australians – an act that would bring them into conflict with local authorities. These missionaries rejected the government’s desire to ‘civilise’ the Indigenous people and ‘amalgamate’ them into the colony as workers, which meant taking away their land, breaking up their communities, suppressing their languages and culture, and separating children from their parents. They protested against the unjust colonial desire that failed to honour the God-given rights of the Australian Indigenous people.
Martin Luther wrote:
As love and support are given you, you, in turn, must render love and support to Christ in his needy ones. You must feel with sorrow … all the unjust suffering of the innocent, with which the world is everywhere filled to overflowing. You must fight, work, pray …
In the footsteps of Jesus, who ‘brings forth justice to the nations and will not grow faint until he has established justice’, and in the footsteps of our mothers and fathers of the faith who followed this calling, let us continue God’s work of bringing justice to the nations.
As Lutherans, we preach that the gospel has the power to change us, both in eternity and right now. May the Holy Spirit empower and guide us as we seek to care for our sisters and brothers in situations of injustice.
Father God, send us your Holy Spirit so that we may join your Son, Jesus Christ, in your work of bringing justice to the nations. Amen.
*We are indebted to the work of Dr Christine Lockwood for bringing knowledge of these early South Australian missionaries to greater light. Consult her PhD thesis, ‘The two kingdoms: Lutheran missionaries and the British civilising mission in early South Australia’, for more information.
Tom Brennen is currently serving as principal of Lakeside College, a Prep to Year 12 Lutheran school located in Pakenham, Victoria. He has served as a missionary in the Middle East and has a passion for bringing Lutheran thinking to issues of social justice. As an educator, he is dedicated to ensuring a transformative Lutheran education is accessible to all families across Australia. Tom holds a Master of Education from Australian Lutheran College, a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership from Australian Catholic University and undergraduate degrees in arts, music and education. As an active academic, Tom has written and presented on many diverse topics, such as worship in Christian schools, the interaction between social justice and Lutheran schools, leading staff professional development and cross-cultural schooling.
- Click here to read previous devotions.
- We are also posting them on LCA Facebook, making it easy for you to share them with family and friends.
- Sign up to receive Daily Devotion in your inbox every morning. If you’re already doing that, please encourage others to sign up. Click here for the link.