Staying Awake on Country (18 Oct 2020)

18 Oct 2020 by Loraine H (Service), Brooke Prentis, Common Grace, (Sermon) in: Online Services

 

 

  1. Acknowledgement of country

 

Let us begin our service by acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land. We pay our respects to elders past and present as they hold the knowledge, language and spiritual connections to this country.

 

We Acknowledge:

Our gratitude for this land we share today,

Our sorrow for the cost of that sharing,

Our hope that together in the spirit of Reconciliation,

we move to a place of justice and partnership,

As together we walk gently on this land.

 

  1. Lighting the Christ Candle

This candle reminds us of the light of the world.

It is a candle of understanding which drives away fear.

It is a candle of truth,

It will lead one in unknown paths to learn more about the mysteries of life.

 

Eternal and near at hand,

Already and not yet,

God’s promise is the foundation of all life.

It was made manifest in Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel,

God with us bring light to all people.

 

 

  1. Call to Worship

 

Lover of justice, you set us on a path to freedom marked by the signposts of your goodness and mercy.

Even when we fall short, you remain faithful, inviting us into right relationship.

Help us to live as your people that we may be the witness to justice and freedom you would have us be. Amen.

 

  1. Prayer of confession

Loving God,
we have looked for you in the wrong places,
and have missed your presence when it has been right here.

We have created gods out of powers and principalities;
we have bowed before wealth and privilege;
and we have admired the external glamour that comes with excess and easy access.

But we have missed your presence in meekness and diversity;
we have walked right past your essence in mutual need and interdependence;
and we have neglected to notice the divine beauty of internal grace and shared love.

Forgive us, we pray and help us to see you all around.
Free us from our bondage to fear and greed.
Reveal yourself in all your glory and guide us in the ways of mercy and goodness.
Teach to see, hear, feel, and know your presence today and always. Amen.

  1. Words of affirmation

Know that the Divine is present in every breath we take, every kindness we share, every glory we witness, and every beauty we embrace. Be assured of God’s forgiveness just as we can be assured of the sun rising each morning.

  1. Hymn 1 Sing out Earth and Skies

 

Verse 1

Come, O God of all the earth;

come to us, O Righteous One.

Come and bring our love to birth;

in the glory of your Son.

 

Chorus

Sing out, earth and skies!
Sing of the God who loves you. Raise your joyful cries,
Dance to the life around you.

 

Verse 2

Come, O God of wind and flame;

fill the earth with righteousness.

Teach us all to sing your name;

may our lives your love confess.

 

Verse 3

Come, O God of flashing light;

twinkling star and burning sun.

God of day and God of night;

in your light we all are one.

Verse 4

Come, O God of snow and rain;

shower down upon the earth.

Come, O God of joy and pain;

God of sorrow, God of mirth.

 

Verse 5

Come, O Justice, come, O Peace;

come and shape our hearts anew.

Come and make oppression cease;

bring us all to life in you.

 

Words and music: Marty Haugen
Copyright © 1985 by GIA Publications, Inc. 7494 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638
www.giamusic.com. 800-442-1358. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

  1. Bible Readings

 

Leviticus 25:1-17 (NIV)

25 The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.

“‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.

13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.

14 “‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. 15 You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. 16 When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops. 17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.

 

Mark 4:35-41. (NIV)

 

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

 

  1. Message by Brooke Prentis. Staying Awake on Country

 

So here we are in the year 2020.  And here we are together at Engadine Uniting Church – today our stories weave together in this very moment.

 

We have gathered. You and I.

 

We – a family, We – a faith community, We – the church, We – Christians and followers of Jesus, We – society, We – a nation, We – the world, We – the peoples, We – all of creation, We – Country, Country in the Aboriginal way. 

 

As Aboriginal peoples of over 300 nations we know community is not whole when one is missing or injured or sick – this is the interconnectedness of community.  We know Country, and it tells us and reminds us of the interconnectedness of all of creation of which peoples are just one part.  We know interconnectedness of the social, political, economic, and ecological – pre-colonisation, all in rhythm with each other – one is not prioritised at the expense of another.  This interconnectedness is taught by the Creator, passed down through our Elders, through the generations. 

 

As Aboriginal peoples our Elders teach us that when the land is sick the people are sick – in these lands now called Australia we, Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islander peoples, and non-Indigenous peoples of all cultures, are dealing with a sickness of over 250 years. 

 

And so here we are in the year 2020.  Now the “we” is you and I.  Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples of all cultures who live in these lands now called Australia in the year 2020.  Together, we live, in a global pandemic, a global climate crisis, and the global black lives matter movement. 

 

Many people have described the current times as turbulent or disrupted. 

But for me, as an Aboriginal person, this disruption didn’t start in 2020, it started 250 years ago – Aboriginal peoples wait for a “new normal” is 250 years long.  I long for my peoples normal before the impacts of colonisation.  

 

There is much we can learn from Aboriginal peoples – survival, adaptability, resilience, and also, community, love, and even hope.

What has started to happen in 2020 is Australians waking up to the true history of these lands now called Australia, waking up to the injustice Aboriginal peoples are living every day, waking up to the level of racism and the peculiar racism that Aboriginal peoples face.

I’ve prayed for the day that Australia would wake up.  I’ve dreamed about it my whole life.  I thought we had our wake up moment in 2016.

That was when images of an Aboriginal child restrained to a chair in a spithood in the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre was broadcast into our living rooms.

Sadly, my fears were realised when Australia went back to sleep.

In 2020, we seem to have woken up again after the death of George Floyd in the US.  But again I ask the question – has non-Indigenous Australia just looked and turned up to one protest, or have they woken up and committed to staying awake?  I pray that Australians will stay awake.  I pray that you will stay awake. 

And so in the year 2020 with the words, teaching, and call of many Aboriginal Elders who say, “Care for Country and country will care for you”, are we awake, are we listening, and are we taking action?

 

First, a word on Country.  Country is not just land.  Country is not just peoples.  Country is all lands, waters, sky, trees, plants, animals, fish, birds, mountains, rocks – and all peoples.

 

Second, a word on what I articulate about Aboriginal ways of being, doing and knowing.  Most Aboriginal people today are Christian.  You won’t find one Aboriginal person, Christian or non-Christian that does not believe in the Creator unless they aren’t identifying and connected to their culture.  For me that Creator is Creator God, the same Creator that is in Genesis 1, as some Aboriginal Christian Leaders say, Genesis 1 is the greatest Aboriginal Dreaming story ever told.  So if you read any Aboriginal Dreaming story it will tell you one of three things - who the Creator is, how to care for creation – that’s all of country, and how to live in right relationship.  These to me are also three Biblical mandates. 

 

I also say Aboriginal peoples are custodians appointed by the Creator.  We are part of God’s story in these lands now called Australia and always have been.  When you understand the true history of the lands now called Australia you know it is a miracle Aboriginal peoples have survived.  That is God’s miracle and we are still here for a reason.  I also point out that in these lands now called Australia, Creator, Holy Spirit, and Jesus, have seen all, and been part of all, since time immemorial, and also over the last 250 years.

 

And so Leviticus 25: 1-17.  I have reflected a lot on this passage during 2020. 

 

Leviticus 25 brings me into the present in these lands now called Australia in the year 2020.  Leviticus 25 means staying awake on country. 

 

2020 is 250 years since Cook came ashore at Kurnell, not too far away from where we are here at Engadine.  Let us not forget Cook’s first interaction was to pull out his gun and fire three shots wounding Gweagal man Cooman.  So from that interaction 250 years ago to us here today, if we take the 50 year periods in Leviticus 25 literally, this year is now the 5th opportunity for consecration and Jubilee.  As we near the end of 2020, I fear it is another missed opportunity.  With the lived daily reality of injustice for my peoples, Aboriginal deaths in custody, stolen wages, the lack of closing the gap, the lack of Treaty and treaties – the words “proclaim liberty” and “return to your land” and “everyone is to return to their property”, make my heart sad, my prayer unceasing, and my actions more urgent. 

 

Let alone, that the passage talks about selling and buying property, so where does Stolen Land, and the blowing up of sacred sites, the destruction of creation from mining and deep sea oil drilling against the wishes of Traditional Owners, fit into this, as verse 17 rings in my ears “Do not take advantage of each other”.

 

When I look at Australia in the year 2020, I see a land out of balance, where people hear in Welcome to Country and from our Elders – “Care for Country and Country will care for you” but profit and greed is put before caring for creation.  I see economy being put before environment.  I see politics before love for our neighbours. As an Aboriginal Christian Leader, I see daily the ramification of serving Mammon and not God, sometimes they feel like ramifications that started 250 years ago and continue today. 

 

One of the other things I say is I cannot separate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice from Creation and Climate justice.

 

Once again, not too far from here at Engadine, in 1788, Arthur Phillip arrived in a woodland.  His first act was to cut down a tree, and then another, and then another.  Even in the iconic drawing you see the stumps of the trees that have been cut down. 

For Aboriginal peoples, this was more than a clash of culture, it was disobeying the Creator, and destabilisation of millennia of balance, the beginning of deforestation in these lands now called Australia.  One can only imagine the distress of the Aboriginal peoples at the time.  As I say, Aboriginal peoples have been fighting for a safe climate for 250 years.

 

So, will we, all Australians, repent and turn from putting profit before the planet and people, and turn, to honouring our Creator and loving our neighbour? 

 

Will we pause long enough to listen to Aboriginal peoples calls to care for country, to stay awake, to learn about the interconnectedness of all of creation and to each other?  To listen to the call of each other’s heartbeat.

A call I hear in my heartbeat, in your heartbeat, my sister’s heartbeat, my brother’s heartbeat, my neighbour’s heartbeat.

It’s the heartbeat of Country. 

We hear it in the whisper of the breeze,

We hear it in the crash of the wave on the beach,

We hear it in the rustling of the gum leaves. 

We hear it in the laughter of the kookaburra,

We hear it in the screech of the homeless cockatoo,

We hear it in the magpie’s good morning warble. 

We hear it in the cries of the black-throated finch.

We hear it in Yam Island in the Torres Strait watching the seas rise.

We hear it in Warlpiri country sitting in the hot desert sun.

We hear it in Wurundjeri country from the winds on the mountains.

There is a stirring in the lands, the waters, the hearts of the people. 

It’s the voice of Great Creator Spirit.  It’s been calling to us since time immemorial, through thousands of years, through 250 years, and today in the year 2020.  We are being called to - to come together, to stay awake, to rise up.  I pray the “we” includes you. 

Together we feel less tired, and less alone.  My hope and prayer is that we act together for the common good, discover common ground and share in common grace – that grace that God shows to all without distinction – the non-discriminating, all inclusive power of God’s love that is reflected in the goodness of creation.  When we have unity in diversity, we see God’s beautiful tapestry of humanity – woven together with the tapestry of all of creation – in our common home – God’s beautiful Earth. 

May we come together, stay awake, and rise up, with Jesus, loving all our neighbours – peoples, lands, waters, trees, plants, animals, birds, fish, mountains – and where together we can proclaim liberty, jubilee for the earth, and take action for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and creation and climate justice by together staying awake on country.   

 

Lord may it be so.  

 

 

  1. Hymn 2 Wake up Jesus

 

Psalm 44:23-26 (ESV)

23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!

24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground.

26 Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

 

Composition and music by The Porter’s Gate. 2020

 

Jesus, when you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up and calm this raging sea?

Jesus, when you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up?

How can you sleep when we're in need?

 

[Chorus]

Just one word from the Maker and all the waves be still

Just one touch from the Healer and all will be made well

 

[Verse]

Jesus, when you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up and calm this raging sea?

Jesus, when you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up?

How can you sleep when we're in need?

 

[Chorus 2x]

Just one word from the Maker and all the waves will be made still

Just one touch from the Healer and all will be made well

 

[Verse]

Jesus, when you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up and calm this raging sea?

 

Jesus, when you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up?

How can you sleep when we're in need?

 

[Outro]

So won't you rise up?

Won't you rise up?

Won't you rise up?

Won't you rise up?

Won't you rise up?

 

  1. Prayers of the People.

 

We pray for our planet – for your true face all around us.

Help us not only to see you clearly in all of its wonder, but to remember our commitment as stewards of your lands, your seas, your air, and your creatures. Guide us in our efforts to care and tend to your world (pause).

 

We pray for our brothers and sisters in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who are grieving their dispossession of land and their lost heritage, who are still subject to continued overt and covert injustices towards them. Be with the families who have children removed or who have had a family member die in custody. We pray that these people will be comforted. (pause)

 

We pray that you will help us always to see your face beaming at us in every face of humanity we encounter.
Show us your anguish as well as your delight;
your struggles as well as your strengths;

your discouragement as well as your resolve;
your sadness as well as your love.
And in all of these, help us to know you and your grace more perfectly.
We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

 

  1. Hymn 3 For the healing of the nations

 

By Fred Kaan 1965

 

For the healing of the nations

Lord we pray with one accord

For a just and equal sharing

Of the things that earth affords

To a life of love in action

Help us rise and pledge our word.

 

Lead your people into freedom

From despair your world release

That, redeemed from war and hatred

All may come and go in peace

Show us how through care and goodness

Fear will die and hope increase

 

All that kills abundant living

Let it from the earth be banned

Pride of status, race or schooling

Dogmas that obscure your plan

In our common quest for justice

May we hallow life’s brief span.

 

You, Creator God, have written

Your great name on humankind

For our growing in your likeness

Bring the life of Christ to mind

That by our response and service

Earth its destiny may find

 

  1. Aboriginal Blessing Brooke Prentis.

 

May our footsteps, on these ancient lands, 

remind us of creation and connectedness, in our search for truth.

 

May the Gum Tree, from its roots to its branches, 

remind us to dig deep and reach high, in our action for justice.

 

May the Eagle, who soars in the sky, 

remind us of the power, in our call for love.

 

May the expanse of the lands and seas, of the sky and stars, 

remind us of God’s timing in our faith in hope.

 

May the Holy three, Creator Spirit, Lord God, Papa Jesus, 

remind us of community.

 

So with grace, mercy, and peace, go in truth, justice, love and hope.

 

Amen.