Last Thursday (28 May) was the 20th Anniversary of the Reconciliation Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and yesterday was the end of National Reconciliation Week. Belinda reflected on this in her Sunday-to-Sunday email last week and also in the service on Sunday. The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 was “In This Together”, a theme that continues to be very relevant even after the week has finished. So let me tell you a bit about the painting that hangs in my office, one that many of you will have noticed in the background during Zoom sessions.
It was painted by Jerry Jangala and Topsy Napurrula and presented to our Church way back in 1988 by a group of about 30 Warlpiri Aborigines from Yuendumu and Lajamanu. The Iconogram is a representation of the One Family Purlapa (Corroboree) they performed at Government House and the forecourt of Parliament House.
It is based on Galatians 3:28. The U-shaped figures represent people. (“U” is the mark left on the ground when people sit.) When the figures are placed back to back, it indicates hostility between black and white, young and old, those under the law and those without law, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female. The large U represents Jesus Christ, in whose faith and fellowship people are reconciled to God and each other. In Him they sit down together and face each other.
Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, a time for celebrating once again the outpouring of the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ ascension and for reflecting on the oneness and peace the Spirit brings. The following words from the first hymn were a welcome reminder of the Spirit’s work.
Praise the Spirit sent among us, liberating truth from pride,
forging bonds where race or gender, age or nation dare divide.
But an unholy gap is clearly evident between what is, what should be and what could be through the Spirit. On Monday we had the unnecessarily brutal arrest of an aboriginal teenager in Surry Hills. All week we have heard unsettling news about demonstrations, riots and police brutality breaking out in various parts of America following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Police in Minneapolis. At times, such news has even been mitigating the endless stream of Coronavirus updates. The Spirit has come, but the Spirit is still needed to transform lives and situations. Come Holy Spirit, come.
This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday, one of the few feast days in the Christian Calendar that celebrates a doctrine rather than an event. An early attempt to formulate the nature of the Trinity, the Athanasian Creed, says: “We worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence… Nothing in this trinity is before or after, nothing is greater or smaller; in their entirety the three persons are coeternal and coequal with each other.” The Trinity still remains a hard-to-comprehend mystery to us, but one worth celebrating nonetheless.
The service will include Communion. It’s not often that Trinity Sunday is also a Communion Sunday for us, but I think it’s very appropriate. It provides a special opportunity to contemplate and give thanks for the forgiveness, redemption and new life from the triune God. Don’t forget to arrange some bread and juice beforehand so that you can participate fully at the appropriate time.
Our Zoom services have provided some extra benefits, including renewed connections. Belinda and I recently received the following email.
Hi Belinda and John
We just wanted to say thank you for running the Zoom church services. As participants from a long way away, we have really enjoyed being able to participate and catch up virtually with church members!! It’s been lovely to see familiar faces and meet some new ones in the break-out rooms!
Big thanks to the amazing tech team for putting this all together and keeping us connected! (It would be fantastic if it was possible, to keep this going, post COVID19 for those of us too far away!)
Sending our prayers and thoughts to you all.
Love from Monica and David Holly
Enjoy the long weekend and blessings for the week.