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Weekly Lift

#103. Reconciliation

Bruce Stanley

May 23, 2022

Are you a person of reconciliation?

This Friday, May 27, is the beginning of national reconciliation week.

So what is it?

"National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) is an annual celebration that builds upon the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples of all cultures in these lands now called Australia." (from the common grace website)

You can find a lot more information on what this week is about here (which is where much information in this post has been taken from):

What is Reconciliation week?

On Sunday, reconciliation week will be a small but important part of all of our Sunday services. So we're taking a one week break from the book of Acts in our weekly lift to ask "what does reconciliation week mean for Christians? And why is this something to talk about on Sunday?"

And one simple answer is found in 2 Corinthians 5:

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sinfor us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5 that the gospel of Jesus is all about reconciliation. The gospel is about reconciling people with God. Throughout Paul's letters to the Corinthian church, he is dealing with conflicts between people - arguments, disagreements, and ungodly attitudes. And here in chapter 5 of his second letter, he turns to the hostility of humanity towards God.

Paul reminds us that we worship a God of reconciliation, a God of peace. We worship a God who loves to see relationships healed - between us and other people, and between people and God. In Matthew 5, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (verse 9), to hunger and thirst for righteousness (verse 6), and to be merciful (verse 7). We are to seek an end to hostilities. We are to nurture reconciliation between all people, imitating our Lord Jesus who came to bring reconciliation between us and God.

This is why we are to be invested in weeks like this. Reconciliation is our heart language as disciples of Jesus.

And as a nation, Australia has a dark history in the way indigenous peoples have been treated.

May 26 is National Sorry Day, remembering the Stolen Generation. This day is a reminder of past government policies that allowed for the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. Some aboriginal children's homes involved in this were not closed until the 1980s.

May 27 marks the 1967 referendum when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were finally counted as Australian citizens.

June 3, the end of reconciliation week, marks the anniversary of the famous ‘Mabo’ case in the High Court, which overturned the myth of “terra nullius” and declared Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to be the Traditional Owners of the land.

These are landmark dates to remember as Australians. These dates remind us that there are times, even in our not too distant past, when we have not been active in defending those who were in need and in speaking for those who had no voice.

To be people of reconciliation means that we are serious about dealing with matters that cause hostility between people, and between people and God. It means that we are serious about seeing healing in broken relationships. We should be seeking this in our own personal lives, in our own families, and in all of our relationships. And we should be seeking it as people of this nation.

The greatest hope I have for us in this regard as a Church is that weeks like this will drive us to prayer. This week, may we be driven to prayer for our nation's first peoples. And may we be driven to think about the many other groups within our society who have been marginalised, abused, forgotten or neglected. May our community see us as people who care about people, as peacemakers, and as ambassadors for the God of reconciliation. May our community be stronger for our work, and may our efforts culminate in drawing people closer to the God who bridges the greatest divide for sinful humanity through his death on the cross.

Reconciliation Prayer

Holy Father, God of Love,
You are the Creator of this land and of all good things.
We acknowledge the pain and shame of our history
and the suffering of our peoples,
and we ask your forgiveness.
We thank you for the survival of indigenous cultures.

Our hope is in you because you gave your Son Jesus
to reconcile the world to you.
We pray for your strength and grace to forgive,
accept and love one another,
as you love us and forgive and accept us
in the sacrifice of your Son.

Give us the courage to accept the realities of our history
so that we may build a better future for our nation.
Teach us to respect all cultures.
Teach us to care for our land and waters.
Help us to share justly the resources of this land.
Help us to bring about spiritual and social change
to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities,
especially the disadvantaged.

Help young people to find true dignity and self esteem by your Spirit.
May your power and love be the foundations
on which we build our families, our communities and our nation,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

This prayer prepared by Wontulp-Bi-Buya Indigenous Theology Working Group, 13 March 1997.

Click here to watch a video message from Aboriginal Christian Leaders as they reflect on the meaning of Reconciliation and how we can practically love in action as Jesus calls us to do.

Conversation with Aboriginal Christian Leaders Video
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