It’s NAIDOC Week, a time for all Australians to remember and celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Last Sunday, the start of NAIDOC Week, we welcomed Bianca Manning to our regular morning service in the Church (via Zoom from Brisbane where she is currently studying at a Bible College). Bianca, a Gomeroi woman who grew up in Newcastle on Awakakal country, was recently appointed as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Coordinator with Common Grace. She shared with us about her faith journey and her commitment to Jesus and Aboriginal social justice. The recording of the service, including my interview with Bianca, is available on our Church website.
Meanwhile in the Hall, the family service also incorporated a NAIDOC emphasis but in their usual interactive, hands-on way. They studied Uncle Rev Ron Williams’ version of Psalm 23 and made puppet emus. They also discussed what other creatures reminded them of God in some way, with answers ranging from penguins to sheepdogs.
My big fella boss up in the sky is like the father Emu.
He will always look after me and take me to green grass,
and lead me to where the water holes are
full and fresh all the time.
He leads me away from the thick scrub
and helps me keep safe from the hunters, dingoes and eagles.
At night time when I am very lonely and sad,
I will not be afraid,
for my Father covers me with his feathers like a father emu.
His spear and shield will always protect me.
My big fella boss always give me a good feed
in the middle of my enemies.
In hot times he makes me sit down in a cool shade and rest.
He gives me plenty of love and care all of my life through.
Then I will live with my big fella boss like a father emu:
that cares for his chicks in good country, full of peace and safety
For evermore and evermore.
Lucy with her emu
We also pause to remember something else this week. Today is 11 November, Remembrance Day, when we remember armed forces personnel who died in the line of duty during war, especially since World War I. By the time you read this email the 11th hour of the day will have passed, but perhaps you could still observe your own 2 minutes of silent remembrance after reading this. This year I also reflected on civilian lives lost through war and the trauma of people who have lost loved ones.
This coming Sunday we will be remembering and acknowledging the work of BaptistCare, especially in the ACT. It will be an opportunity to give thanks for the history of care at Carey Gardens, BaptistCare Griffith, and Morling Lodge and to anticipate the commencement of retirement living at Yarra Rosa on the old Morling Lodge site. BaptistCare also provides other vital services including home care, palliative care, respite care, counselling and family services, and HopeStreet. Howard Warren, Chaplain at Carey Gardens, will be sharing with us (in person in Church) and I will offer a brief Biblical reflection on caring.
Looking a little further ahead, Advent (and hence Christmas) is not far off. In previous years we have produced an Advent booklet with reflections from various people on relevant Biblical passages to enhance our preparations for Christmas. We are doing something similar this year, but there will be daily emails instead. We are still looking for volunteers to write short daily reflection (250-500 words). The weekly themes, which will coincide with the themes in our morning services, are hope, peace, joy, and love in that order. As Advent begins on Sunday 29 November, contributions on hope will need to be provided to Cecelia by Sunday 15 November.
After our focus on lament over the past month, I offer the benediction prayer of 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 for you.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,
comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.