We need to embrace friends and friendship

By Riverine Herald

‘WHEN we forget to say things, we forget they are real,’ — Matt Brain.

This line from the Anglican Bishop of Bendigo has stuck in my mind for more than a week.

What things am I forgetting to say?

My mind hasn’t gone to the little messages of life that are important to those around me, like ‘I love you’ or ‘I am proud of you son’.

Rather, what are the big important things that are not being spoken about?

Ascension Day, celebrated on Thursday of last week, reminded me of some real things we need to speak about.

Ascension Day is a day set aside for remembering, that 40 days after he rose from the dead, Jesus ascended to heaven to take his place with God the Father.

He became chief negotiator between God and people, a reconciling role so that people can do business with God.

This day highlighting the reconciling role of Jesus coincided with Reconciliation week. An apt combination for me, as both highlight relationships that need to be restored.

For those following the way of Jesus, restoring a relationship with God is meant to flow over into our relationships with others.

We are meant to be a reconciling people.

Unfortunately, that has not always been the story between church and the First Peoples of Australia. Australians Together (a not-for-profit that believes better outcomes for Indigenous Australians begin with a change in our perspective) have been reminding us that some of the Papal Bulls (church pronouncements that shaped national and international policies) of the 15th Century contributed to the very attitude towards indigenous peoples at colonisation.

There are also the actions of the Missions across a 200-year history that often left a deep wound, see the book One Blood by John Harris for more specifics.

These two brief examples are not the whole story, but they are part of the wound that leaves a broken relationship under-acknowledged and yet to be fully reconciled.

As tempting as it is to say yes, but … and then provide positive examples, that doesn’t deal with the harm.

Too often we skip ahead and forget to say the things that brought a long hurt.

I don’t speak as an expert, by any means, but as someone wanting to acknowledge the truth, that the dispossession and harm was real and that proper recognition is needed.

Ascension Day is quickly followed by Pentecost in the church calendar, which is celebrated this Sunday.

It has become something of a tradition around the globe to devote the 10 days between these two occasions to pray.

Praying for people to know the way of Jesus, reconciled to God and reconciled to others.

It has been one of my prayers during this time that Reconciliation Week will lead us not just from forgetfulness to remembrance, but onward to recognition and to the warm embrace of friendship.

Tim Bowles, Chaplain

Moama Anglican Grammar