This Sunday 20 January is Aboriginal Sunday. It is a day when churches around the country are asked to #ChangeTheHeart regarding #ChangeTheDate: to open themselves to growing in understanding, respect and acknowledgement for what January 26 (Invasion (Australia) Day) means for Aboriginal peoples. We will try to open our hearts in several ways.
First, we will use our summer liturgy, but weave in resources provided by Common Grace. These resources were provided as a gift to churches to be used as an act of friendship with Aboriginal brothers and sisters in Christ. Our reflection will include a video message from Aboriginal Christian leader Brooke Prentis, followed by an opportunity for discussion.
After the service, we will gather out the front of the church for a photograph of the congregation standing with our shoes off. Common Grace has asked churches to be photographed barefoot to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand, and with whom we stand in justice, healing and reconciliation. They ask that this photograph be sent to them, and also shared on social media on January 26 as an act of #ChangeTheHeart advocacy. If you do not want to participate, that’s absolutely fine; just stay inside while the photo is being taken. Parents, if you do not want your child’s photograph to go on social media, it is your responsibility to keep your children inside. Otherwise, their presence will be taken for consent. Obviously, no names will be attached to the photograph.
The message we will hear on Sunday includes a call to acknowledge how white colonialism has had devastating effects on the land. Therefore, as a symbol of repentance and hope, I invite you to #ChangeTheStomach. That is, bring food for our potluck meal as usual but, if you would like to, include an Indigenous ingredient or two. It would be great to see some kangaroo, warrigal greens, wattle seed, pigface, lemon myrtle, eel, salt bush and muntries at our table as we eat together and look to the banqueting table of heaven: that feast of all peoples where God will swallow up death forever, wipe away all tears, and take away our disgrace once and for all (Isaiah 25:6-9).
This is a good time to remind you that some of us are reading Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, a collection of forty or so short pieces about the experience of being Indigenous in a colonial society. Personally, I’ve found it helpful not only for revealing the terrible regularity and depth of racism Indigenous people still face, and the particular difficulties for Indigenous people who have pale skin, but also for revealing some of my own deeply embedded racist assumptions and blindness. We plan to meet and talk about the book over coffee/brunch at Rough Diamond on Saturday 23 February at 10am. If you would like to be part of this, please let me know.