Acknowledging the painful past and calling for an attitude of forgiveness and recognition are prominent parts of a NAIDOC Week 2020 prayer by the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA).
Flowing from the the “Always was. Always will be” theme of NAIDOC Week 2020, the UCA’s prayer begins:
“Loving Creator God, We rejoice in the beauty of this ancient land and her waters. We marvel at the awesome way they have been formed. We give thanks for her First Nations Peoples, their stories of creation sung by countless Ancestors.”
NAIDOC Week is an annual time in Australia to celebrate and reflect upon the “history, culture and achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee week has a long history and was created to advocate for Australia’s First Peoples.
Accordingly, the UCA prayer also guides those praying into repentance and thanksgiving:
“It is right, Loving Mystery, that we name the dispossession, violence and bloodshed, which First Peoples endured at the hands of Second Peoples. We ask your forgiveness, and their forgiveness, on behalf of our forebears. We pray for your healing of this land and her Peoples. We pray that love will make a new way, a harmony way, the way of Jesus. Holy God, Today we are grateful, and we celebrate this nation’s true history, beginning long before time.”
Other Christian justice organisations have also made NAIDOC prayers available, including Common Grace and Tearfund, as well as Anglican Board of Mission and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council.
Along with the UCA’s special prayer, a NAIDOC Week video also was released, with UCA President Deidre Palmer and Uncle Mark Kickett.
Kickett is a Nyoongar man from the south west of Western Australia and is National Interim Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).
But it was former UCA President Stuart McMillan who penned the church’s NAIDOC Week prayer this year, in his capacity as National Consultant Covenanting. This role was created in 2018 to provide advice, support and leadership in honouring the UCA’s Covenant with the UAICC.
McMillan’s prayer concludes with:
“You, Wisdom, call us body, call us one, To walk together, people from many lands, under this same golden sun, together First Nations Peoples and all of us who have since come.
Together there is a new song to be sung, as old as time. Hear the yidaki, hear the bilma, the Ancestors call. Wisdom, help us to listen, to follow, to learn, to grow. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.”
The UCA encourages sharing this prayer, or writing your own during NAIDOC Week.
*Yidaki is the Yolŋu word for digeridoo, and bilma is the word for clap stick.