The Gospel and Reconciliation
Reconciliation is about restoring relationships that have been damaged and broken. Reconciliation lies at the heart of our faith as followers of Jesus. The Apostle Paul describes God’s accomplishment through Jesus using the language of reconciliation in Colossians 1:19-20:
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
God is all about the reconciliation of relationships. He wants people to be reconciled with him through Jesus (the vertical dimension) and so enjoy peace with him and an active and loving relationship. He also wants us to be reconciled to each other and live together in relationships of love and peace (the horizontal dimension). Working for reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is an outworking of our gospel commitment and an expression of our faith in Jesus.
The Need for Reconciliation
The arrival of European settlers in 1788 led directly to consequences that still exist today. The loss of traditional lands, the decimation of the Aboriginal population through war and disease, the stolen generation and the disruption to culture has led to a significant gap between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Australia. This gap exists in areas like health, life expectancy, education, access to employment and more.
As a church we have participated in aspects of this sad history, and we have gained benefits at the expense of indigenous Australians. We may not have been present at the point in history when actions and decisions were taken but we bear a responsibility as the current expression of the church in this place and at this time to do what we can to work for reconciliation.
In recent decades we have seen signs of hope in the process of reconciliation: at a government level, for example with the apology given to the Stolen Generation in 2008, and at a church level, with Melbourne Diocese and our mission partners like Bush Church Aid (BCA) developing their own RAPS. These signs of hope have been an encouragement and a resource for us.
The detail of this RAP highlights actions we will take to keep learning, raise cultural awareness and seek after reconciled relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and non-indigenous Australians.
Our RAP was launched as part of Reconciliation week 2022 and you can download a copy here. It is a Reflect RAP, using the framework provided by Reconciliation Australia, and focuses on listening, learning, and preparing our church for its next steps.
In June and July 2022 we are encouraging our church to do the Australians Together materials. You can do this with your Life Group, as a family, or individually. The link to the 4 videos is here or there are DVDs available from the church office.