Many people eat lamb on January 26, and that’s fine, but, of course there are many other things you could eat, instead. You could have kangaroo or crocodile and also a whole lot of ’bush tucker’. Or maybe you had Pad Thai or Nasi Goreng or … the possibilities are almost endless because there are so many cultures represented in Australia.
It’s been said that Australia is one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world. Of course, Australia is far from perfect, and not everyone was/is happy or has benefitted or had a choice in people coming from all these countries to these shores. The movement of people-groups over the earth in the course of world history has permanently altered or removed some cultures and peoples. This is a sad part of human history. The fact that God is ultimately ruling over world history (e.g. Acts 17:26) doesn’t excuse sin.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can rightly have mixed thoughts and feelings (at this time of year). I remember Aboriginal Pastor Eddie Turpin acknowledging that Europeans brought bad things to this land … but that they also brought the gospel, for which he was very thankful.
I also remember at the Woodford Folk Festival (near Brisbane), the stall run by Aboriginal Christians who urged everyone to be reconciled to God, as the best foundation for racial reconciliation. It was heart-warming to be called ‘brother’ by this fellow-member of God’s family. As some of you realised, it also gave me great joy to meet at the GAFCON Conference Darren and Edwin from Minyerri in the Northern Territory (the men on the front cover of the CMS Prayer Diary). They are loving and teaching God’s truths in a place where they’ll never get any ‘worldly’ acclaim, but they are helping Christ’s Church there.
If you want to know more about the (good, the bad and the ugly) history of Christians interactions with Australian Indigenous people, one very good resource is Bible translator Dr. John Harris’ award-winning book, One Blood: 200 Years of Aboriginal Encounter with Christianity: A Story of Hope.
Irrespective of where you or your forebears originated or whether you at lamb last Thursday, may each of us love our neighbours by representing the gospel, whether in word +/or in deeds. Australia is a complex nation with a complex and sometimes ‘messy’ history, but there are many things to thank God for — especially the coming land which is even far, far better than here.