Today is Reconciliation Sunday, a day when we ponder a clash of worlds and, depending on whether you are of the First Peoples or the Second, we reflect upon hurts felt or inflicted, promises made and broken, things given and things taken, and what it means to go and walk a covenanting journey.
Reconciliation, the journey of covenanting, boils down to relationship, to sitting down over a cup of tea, sharing stories, laughing together, crying together. If I am not prepared to sit and linger for a long time, to eat with another, to listen to them with genuine interest and curiousity, to share their life if they invite me to – if I do not love, then I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
True relationship listens, lingers, practices patience, supports, turns up again and again, gives and receives, speaks in turn, loves. For those of us with power, privilege, education, and money, the challenge to truly practice these things rests heavier, I think. Those without them have much to teach.
As I stop, let go, relinquish control, wait, practice patience, open my hands and dare to receive, particularly from my indigenous friends, it has been my discovery that greater wisdom, greater love, greater compassion, greater knowledge so often exists in the other. I have things to bring. But so do they. I have things to teach. But so do they. And in that moment of meeting, without an agenda, relationship is born. We become people together, not a campaign and a campaigner, but friends, two people on a journey together, walking side by side.
John’s Gospel devotes three chapters to Jesus’ last words over a meal with his disciples. He speaks of them as friends, this motley bunch of people, drawn from quite opposite parts of society. People who have spent around three years following, listening, observing, arguing, eating, sleeping, walking, laughing, crying, puzzling together with each other, and being moulded into a reconciled community. They weren’t an obvious friendship group, but they became so.
This Jesus, the friendmaker, lived what he asked of them. Ironically, he was the overqualified one. Philippians tells us, Jesus left glory, majesty, splendour, riches and power behind, was born as a baby, parented by his creation who wiped his bottom, blew his nose, told him off, taught him how to love and respect and honour, trained him in life skills. Having spent 30 years learning about being human from those whom others looked down on – an uneducated woman from Nazareth with suspicions of adultery lurking in her background, and a carpenter – he then took time to become friends with a group of strangers.
In John 17, among other things, Jesus is reminding God that these people, because they are his friends, are now part of the life of the Trinity. ‘All mine are yours, and yours are mine’. His friendship with them grounds and cements the work of reconciliation that he was sent to do. Jesus asks God to protect this, to protect these ones that have been given to him as friends so that in being one, together, they might reflect the oneness of their God. Friendship makes reconciliation possible. True friendship lies at the heart of covenant relationships.
And these friends, empowered by the Holy Spirit, would go on next to change the world.
This Reconciliation Sunday, I would encourage us all not to campaign but to work on our relationships, particularly our relationships with the indigenous peoples of this land. Change, reconciliation, will not come through programs or directives or even policies, but through making friends.
Dr Rosemary Dewerse
Director of Missiology, Uniting College of Leadership and Theology
1st June 2014
(Rosemary’s full address can be heard by clicking on Hear Here on the top banner of the website)
posted 01 Jun 2014 by Sandy