The theme for Reconciliation Week this year is
‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together in Courage’.
Australia will once again observe National Sorry Day (Sunday 26 May) and Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June). We do this in acknowledgement that all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, share this land and together we must build a united future. To be ‘a truly successful society’ we need to courageously confront those parts of our national character and our history that hold us back from fully being a free and generous people.
Genuine reconciliation requires truth telling, mutual understanding and agreement between the parties involved. It means to fully recognise our common humanity and our equal right to flourish and grow as individuals and as a society. Christians know that true reconciliation is a gift from God. God has generously forgiven and reconciled us through faith in Christ. That same faith leads us to seek reconciliation with one another wherever it is needed (see Matthew 18:23-35). That includes working with other fair-minded people for a just and generous society.
Reconciliation Australia is the lead organisation working in this field. On this year’s theme Grounded in Truth – Walk Together in Courage it writes:
At the heart of reconciliation is the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To foster positive race relations, our relationship must be grounded in a foundation of truth.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long called for a comprehensive process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history. Our nation’s past is reflected in the present, and will continue to play out in future unless we heal historical wounds.
Today, 80 per cent of Australians believe it is important to undertake formal truth telling processes, according to the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer. Australians are ready to come to terms with our history as a crucial step towards a unified future, in which we understand, value and respect each other.
Whether you’re engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey requires all of us to walk together with courage. This National Reconciliation Week, we invite Australians from all backgrounds to contribute to our national movement towards a unified future.
In light of this year’s Reconciliation Week theme and Reconciliation Australia’s five dimensions of reconciliation, and the ongoing reconciliation-related work within the LCA, I commend to you the following prayer points over this period.
For a fuller and more accurate picture of Australian history, for positive race relations, for equal rights and fair treatment for all, and a shared sense of ‘Australian-ness’
God our loving Father, through your Son Jesus you reconciled the world to yourself. Help us to be reconciled with others by seeing them as you see them. We pray
- for increasing understanding and acceptance of Aboriginal peoples’ experience of Australian history, the traumas caused and their ongoing effects;
- for widespread agreement and commitment to ways in which modern day Australians can help to address the traumas of the past and their ongoing consequences today;
- that Australians of all ethnic and racial backgrounds will move away from competitive and divisive practices of claiming primary allegiance to their race, ethnicity or ‘tribe’, and generously commit themselves to the common good;
- that Australians of mixed racial heritage who struggle with their identity find ‘internal reconciliation’, neither denying nor disdaining any part of their ancestry, but knowing that they are above all beloved children of God;
- that we might be inspired by the vision of kind of society articulated by Martin Luther King, where citizens are unconscious of tribe or race and see themselves primarily as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father in heaven;
- that Aboriginal people who want to preserve their identity through cultural values and traditions, but at the same time participate fully in ‘mainstream’ society, may be free to explore how to live and thrive in both worlds;
- and that we can all reach a mature understanding of culture, that no one culture is uniquely good, that all cultures contain both good and bad elements, and that we live at our best when we are open to each other and learn from each other, committed to holding on to what is good and letting go of what is damaging.
For institutional support for reconciliation right around Australia
- for moves to establish an ‘Indigenous Voice’ to parliament, that we can agree on a workable model, and that it will become a heard and respected authority on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- for the media, workplaces and for all institutions in Australia as they work towards reconciliation, that they may do so in God-pleasing ways;
- for our church and for Lutheran schools that are working on, or that have formulated, Reconciliation Action Plans;
- and for all efforts to build friendship, trust and neighbourly relations between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people in our churches and local communities.
Pastor John Henderson
Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand
Adelaide, 20th May 2019