The following is the reflection delivered by Rev Lucas Tayor at the Service of Mourning for First Peoples held at Red Stringybark Picnic Area, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe on 27 January.
For my whole life my uncle has the bare shell of an old Jaguar sports car under a tarpaulin tucked up the back of various carports and garages. As he is approaching retirement he has begun restoring it – a Jaguar XK150.
In the 1950’s and 60’s Jaguars were pretty groundbreaking. They were arguably visionary in their design.
People would talk about this as being a RESTORED car. That my uncle is restoring the Jag back to its former state.
But in truth this car is in a lot of ways going to be probably better now than it was when it rolled off the production line. It is now looked after by someone who does the work out of passion and love, not someone who is working for the paycheck at the shift whistle.
To say it is being restored to its former state is not quite accurate. I think a better word that carries the nuance better would be to perhaps say that the Jag is reconciled.
Reconciled with the vision of the designer who had to compromise for the practicalities of the production line.
Reconciled with the awe and dreams of the little boy who pressed his nose against the showroom window and saw the sweeping lines and shiny chrome and who wished one day he could own that car.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NRSV)
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
The Apostle Paul writes to his friends in Corinth and makes the role of reconciliation in Christian community clear. Christ is on about reconciling people with God and in that lies our mission; reconcile with each other and reconcile with God. If God is in all things then reconciliation with all people and with creation must be our mission.
Now the word ‘reconciliation’ has become linked predominately with Indigenous rights in our society these days and it’s a helpful example. We tend to think of reconciliation as a restoration – a going back to a time when things were right.
But the reality is that there has never been a time when European descended Australians have been in just and right relationship with Indigenous Australians.
The sad truth is that colonisation resulted in violence, dispossession and abuse of Indigenous Australians. And in 200 odd years its only gotten marginally better.There simply is no just and fair time in our history to go back to. There is nothing worth restoring us back to.
We have to look forward. True reconciliation calls us forward, not backward, to a better time ahead. That’s the divine reconciliation Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians.
Part of our calling as a Christian community is to be people who call forward to deeper relationships, more honest interactions and more just exchanges.We must prepare ourselves to move into deeper relationships, into a process of reconciliation, becoming reconciled to the divine vision of how community could be, of how our world could be. Being reconciled forwards to a new place; growing from the old to the new.
We are reconciled and made new in Christ – Paul calls us a new creation! We are called to new life! To vibrant and life-giving community that reconciles with each other and with God. To be community that finds a way to welcome back the sheep who was lost us, to find a way to welcome and embrace the stranger, the outsider, the marginalized, the weak and the poor.
…and (like my uncle’s Jag) help rebuild, restore, replenish people (including ourselves) to become more beautiful, more valuable then ever.