Caring for Country
By Andy Fleming, Associate Chaplain
During this coming long weekend, a group of Year 10 students and staff will be travelling to Myall Creek in Gamilaraay country to attend the Myall Creek Commemoration Service.
The Gamilaraay Elders initially asked for Radford students to attend these Commemoration services to ensure the students understand the Myall Creek massacre and to pay their respects to the community past and present. This trip is now an annual pilgrimage, and one which inspires those who attend to return home with a clearer understanding of our past, and with the desire to find a way towards authentic reconciliation.
In conjunction, each year during RaVE, Year 10 students are invited to participate in the Myall Creek Memorial Student Art, Writing and Song competition that promotes “saying no to racism and yes to treating everyone with respect and understanding”.
This year’s theme for the competition is “Caring for Country starts with me!” which couldn’t be more timely. Recently, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, issued a warning that the world has only 10 years before climate change becomes irreversible, calling for a global partnership to tackle climate change.
Climate change is a topic that so many of our students are concerned about, and they’re more than aware of the implications of not acting or learning from those who respect the land. There is much we can learn from First Nations Australians' cultures' respect for country, and how the land is treated. First Nations Australians understand that they belong to mother earth. It is a source of their identity and belonging, not just something that provides resources which are too often exploited.
To this end, Common Grace has extended an invitation to participate in action for healing Country. On the website, Brooke Prentis includes God’s creation in her Acknowledgement to Country. Brooke says, “Country is all of God’s wondrous creation ... Jesus understands, having shared our suffering and pain. Jesus provides hope for country to be healed, restored, loved and set free. Jesus calls us as his hands and feet to take an active role in healing country by protecting and restoring God’s beautiful earth.” It is not surprising that the peoples of Old Testament times also saw themselves as part of God’s creation. The writer of Psalm 95 understands this.
We are to be stewards of God’s creation, charged to be responsible to care for and protect our mother earth – something the "western" world seems to have forgotten in its pursuit for wealth.
Grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it.
Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures.
Help us to become instruments of a new creation,
Founded on the covenant of your love.
- The Cry of the Earth
May the peace of God be with you in the week ahead,