Gratitude and Lament
I’m really looking forward to gathering together this Sunday. Of course, I look forward to every Sunday, but this week we have a little something extra planned. We will not only—as we always do—sing to our God, come before Him in prayer, open up His word, and encourage one another. We will also pray for our leaders, hear where God is leading us this year, find out about ministries that are kicking off, have an opportunity to sign up to serve, and then celebrate together at our ‘Summer Party’ after the service with a sausage sizzle, ice-cream, face painting and games for the whole family. That’s a whole lot of good things packed into one Sunday! I hope to see you there.
Not to mention the fact that this Sunday is also Australia Day. If I’m honest, when I think about Australia Day I cannot help but feel a mixture of both gratitude and lament. I lament the treatment of the Aboriginal people at the hands of the European settlers. It is an incontrovertible fact of history that with the arrival of the settlers the indigenous people of Australia experienced dispossession, disease, and even death. We can and we should lament this injustice. Yet I also feel gratitude for the peace, prosperity, and freedom that we enjoy in Australia today, and for all those who have shed blood, sweat and tears to ensure this remains the case.
It’s difficult to hold these two realities together and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, or even any answers at all, but I do believe if we are going to honour God, pursue justice, and walk humbly, we must discover a way to remember the past and to find a way forward together.
So, on this Australia Day for 2020, let me invite you to our most necessary task, which is not to fire up the BBQ and throw on some lamb, as great as that might be, but to pray. Pray for our country. Pray for our leaders. Pray for unity. Pray. I’ve included a series of written prayers (from Common Prayer: Resources for gospel-shaped gatherings) below that you might like to pray at some stage today.
Grace and peace,
God of the nations, we pray for Australia. Inspire and direct our leaders to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Bring many Australians to a knowledge of the truth about Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for us all.
Gracious God, thank you for bringing to our country people from many races and cultures. Take away the mistrust and lack of understanding that so easily divide us. Increase in us true humility and love for strangers. Remove racism from our midst, that we may share this land and its bounty, and all may hear the gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ and know his love.
Heavenly Father, thank you for those who serve us in the defence and police forces, the fire brigades and ambulance services. Give them courage and protection when they face loneliness, misunderstanding and danger. Help us to be grateful for what they do and to support them with respect and honour, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Creator God, you made from one man all nations and determined where each should live. We bring before you the indigenous people of Australia. We acknowledge the history that has damaged the relationship between them and later arrivals to this land. Thank you for the steps that have been taken on the journey towards reconciliation. Deepen this process among us. Guide national and community leaders to speak the truth in love, to seek justice with mercy and to care for those who are disadvantaged. Strengthen indigenous church leaders to shepherd your flock faithfully, and strengthen all indigenous Christians to be salt and light in their communities and in the whole nation. Give indigenous and non-indigenous believers grace to demonstrate the new family you are making in Christ out of people from every nation, tribe, language, and people through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gracious Lord, grant to our governments and all who serve in public life wisdom and skill, imagination and energy. Protect them from corruption and the temptation to serve themselves. Help us all to commit ourselves to the common good that our land may be a secure home for all its peoples through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.