Walk in the light together, First and Second Peoples
By Stuart McMillan, Advocate, National Consultant Covenanting
“Listen! Your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground”. God addresses Cain about the death of his brother (Genesis 4:10b).
Listen! The blood of the First Nations Peoples of this land cries out from the ground to the Creator God.
Sally Morgan painted the above work for the book One Blood by John Harris (1990).
One Blood draws its title from the firm belief found in Acts 17:26:
“God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.”
When Rev John G. Fee in the 1800’s made this his driving force he stood counterculturally against the culture and beliefs of his day that saw the enslaved African Americans as less than human.
How does this truth speak of our walking in the light together as First and Second Peoples?
What do you see in Sally Morgan’s painting?
In the Uniting Church in Australia, when we advocate for refugees and in the march on Palm Sunday, our Christian belief is: “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he (sic) created them” (Genesis 1:27a).
I’m sure you have heard it said we are ‘image bearers’ and so we are, but the truth of the Acts verse above is that we are “of one blood”- all humanity blood sisters and brothers.
“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22b). It’s Holy Week, the Cross of Christ is looms large for us as Christians.
“They pierced Jesus side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water”. (John 19:34)
The shedding of blood is significant in many cultures just as it was for the Hebrew people.
The painting featured in the Covenant Banner includes these words of explanation:
“The painting also depicts the sacred ground where ceremonies take place and in particular the Wukindi ceremony, to restore relationship when blood is spilt and bring reconciliation”.
This sacred painting given at the time in 1994 when the Covenant between the Uniting Church in Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress was formalised, is deeply spiritual and significant for the Dhurili Riŋgitj (an alliance of four Yolŋu Clan-Nations).
The central element for Wukindi is blood. The purpose of the ceremony, which takes place when Wukindi is declared, is to enable forgiveness and reconciliation to come through silence, deep self-reflection - introspection, in response to violence and bloodshed.[i]
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:43)
We remind ourselves of words spoken when the Covenant was formalised:
“We lament that our people took your land from you as if it were land belonging to nobody, and often responded with great violence to the resistance of your people; our people took from you your means of livelihood and desecrated many sacred places.” Dr Jill Tabart
“It is good and right that the church should repent of any of its actions in support of a policy that violently discriminated against and oppressed God’s stewards of this land. Because it is pleasing to God to love one another, and it is our commitment to do so, we invite you on behalf of Congress members to develop a new relationship by entering into the struggle of those issues that presently are the cause of continuing injustice resulting in broken relationships.” Ps Bill Hollingsworth
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1John 1:7).
My friends, I ask us all this Holy Week to enter into a deep period of self-reflection and introspection.
For it is my firm belief, that our Creator God who has led us in covenant relationship, would heal our land and her people, all her people, for we are of one blood.
[i] Wukindi – A Background Paper, Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, © June 2003