Posted in SU QLD
NAIDOC Week is a chance to celebrate the important and invaluable part that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples play for all of Australia.
The theme for 2021 is “Heal Country”, and cleverly invites us into a discussion about multiple layers of meaning, challenge and hope.
First there is the now familiar call to be good stewards to our physical land, combatting destructive and wasteful practices, and learning from first nations peoples about ancient ways of caring for land, culture and heritage.
This environmental concern is deeply founded in the unique understanding that First Australians have to the word or concept of “country”, though it is can be a difficult concept for non-indigenous people to grasp. As one of those non-indigenous, I recognise I am still learning and can only try to explain my understanding.
To first nations peoples, country is intertwined into their cultural identity and is often spoken of as if it had a consciousness, like a living entity. It speaks of a strong connection to origins, both in terms of ancestry but also the land upon which ancestry was grounded. And these origins hark all the way back to creation – God’s creation – where all people were formed from dust, the very land itself.
Therefore healing country longs for a restoration of both the land and our sense of connection and belonging.
Finally, the theme highlights (for me) that our nation needs healing. We are battling a global pandemic, experiencing fierce division over race, sexuality, politics, wealth and so much more, and through it all our First Australian peoples continue to endure historic trauma, deprivation and disadvantage, and have still to find their fulfilled place within our multicultural society.
My faith powerfully convicts me that all people were made equal, in the image of God, and yet our social brokenness is not of his making but is a consequence of humanity’s rejection of God.
Likewise, I am convinced that our God loved this broken world so much that he came as a humble man, Jesus, to offer us healing as individuals, families, communities and countries. Then he gave his followers what he called a “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21), where we strive with his help to make things right again.
This NAIDOC Week , “Heal Country” is a call we can say amen to, on so many levels.
About the author…
Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.