God of all the tribes and nations

This prayer was written by my friend and colleague Janet Dawson a couple of years ago. This year, on the Day of Mourning (22 January) prior to Australia Day, it was offered in prayer during morning worship at Port Macquarie Uniting Church, on Biripi land, in New South Wales. It is fitting for our consideration on this day, remembered by First Peoples as Invasion Day.

God of all the tribes and nations of the earth,

I give you thanks for Australia’s First Peoples.

I have so much to learn from them.

All my life I have been a wanderer upon the face of the earth.

I struggle to understand a sense of bone deep connection with the land,

of having been with the land for tens of thousands of years,

of being one with the land.

I struggle with it.

I yearn for it.

Yet even as I yearn,

I glimpse the pain that comes from separation.

I do not know what is like to be torn from your country,

Your roots,

Your culture,

Your language,

Your family,

Your self.

How many of us turn our eyes away because the pain is too great?

God, forgive us, and give us the strength to turn around, and see.

Strength.

With deepest respect I give thanks for the strength of Australia’s First Peoples.

They have survived.

Against all the odds, against all the good and bad intentions,

They have survived.

But not all.

And not all who are alive today are whole,

Many have lost too much.

God, forgive us for what we have done,

For what we continue to do.

I pray for the continued resurgence of First Peoples’ culture, language and pride.

Named or unnamed,

You are their strength,

You are their inspiration,

You are in their Law,

You sing in their Dreaming.

And out of my own small circle of experience,

I give thanks for the United Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress,

Their insightful theology,

Their inspiring worship,

Their bright and beautiful young leaders.

May they continue to enrich and heal their peoples.

May they continue to be a gift and inspiration to the whole church.

God of all the tribes and nations of the earth,

I give you thanks for Australia’s First Peoples.

Amen.

Author: John T Squires

My name is John Squires. I live in the Australian Capital Territory. I have been an active participant in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) since it was formed in 1977, and was ordained as a Minister of the Word in this church in 1980. I have served in rural, regional, and urban congregations and as a Presbytery Resource Minister and Intentional Interim Minister. For two decades I taught Biblical Studies at a theological college and most recently I was Director of Education and Formation and Principal of the Perth Theological Hall. I've studied the scriptures in depth; I hold a number of degrees, including a PhD in early Christian literature. I am committed to providing the best opportunities for education within the church, so that people can hold to an informed faith, which is how the UCA Basis of Union describes it. This blog is one contribution to that ongoing task.

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