#ChangeTheHeart will be a unique, national service led by Aunty Jean Phillips and Aboriginal Christian Leaders simulcast on television, online, and on radio. Monday, 25 January 2021 at 7:30 pm AEDT.
For we are ONE and free
Small changes I believe can make a big difference in working towards true reconciliation in Australia. This is just the start- the changing of ONE word can begin a change of heart.
From January 1 2021, the Australian national anthem changed. In November 2020, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian proposed changing one word in the opening couplet, from "we are young and free" to "we are one and free", to acknowledge Australia's Indigenous history. The proposal was supported by the federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, and in December 2020 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that this change would be adopted from 1 January 2021, having received approval from Governor-GeneralDavid Hurley.
"Advance Australia Fair was created by the Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick, the song was first performed in 1878 and sung in Australia as a patriotic song. It replaced "God Save the Queen" as the official national anthem in 1984, following a plebiscite to choose the national song in 1977. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_Australia_Fair)
Statement from the heart
The Uluru Statement from the Heartwas released on 26 May 2017 by delegates to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention, held over four days near Uluru in Central Australia. The Convention was held after the 16-member Referendum Council, appointed in 2015, had travelled around the country and met with over 1,200 people.
The statement was issued after the Convention, and calls for a "First Nations Voice" in the Australian Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of "agreement-making" and truth-telling between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. (Makarrata is a Yolngu word approximating the meaning of "treaty".)
The statement references the second part of the 1967 referendum, which (after passing) brought about changes to the Constitution of Australia to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in population counts, and gave the Federal Government the power to make laws for Indigenous Australians in the states.
There is no better time for Australian Christians to lead the country in accepting the truth of our nation’s history, including the past and current treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. By acknowledgement, we are honouring something with our intention to change and giving something our attention.
Jesus was so adept at turning His thoughts, His ideas and His heart of compassion towards people. He acknowledged their pain and suffering, giving them His full attention. So often He reminded His followers to acknowledge the “least of these” and help those in society often deemed unworthy or who live in ways that made people feel awkward. When protests happen, regardless of the issue or political slant of these protests, I often think Jesus would be among these people, listening with kindness and faith.
Many people have experienced pain and oppression, on many sides of politics and life, yet I sense Jesus would be extending His love and compassion to all. Surely, He would not advocate and support the violence of these protests in 2020 or at the start of 2021? By this all people will know we are His disciples, that we have love for one another. Not hate, not anger or a willingness to cause pain. I hope and pray people look for ways to acknowledge the unfortunate, oppressed and downtrodden, by standing alongside them, remembering our past and always seeking a way forward together.
In this spirit, Aboriginal Christian leader, Aunty Jean Phillips, invites Australians to pray as we approach January 26 — a day of mourning for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters. Since 2017 these services have been held in every state and territory with the support of the Common Grace movement.
Aunty Jean has been educating Australian Christians for decades on the true history of these lands now called Australia. Aunty Jean has said to many Australian Christians, “Your history is our history, our history is your history.”
What do I do?
As Aunty Jean would tell you, “the cross has all the answers” and “prayer is just so important”. These services have been a rallying way that non-Indigenous peoples can come to learn and acknowledge the true history of our nation, to lament the injustices and present-day disadvantages facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters and to pray, for “a nation built on truth, justice, love and hope”.
At the beginning of 2020, over 3,000 people answered Aunty Jean’s call to prayer and gathered at 23 services. For 2021, is the opportunity for the biggest ever #ChangeTheHeart prayer event. On Monday, 25 January 2021 a televised #ChangeTheHeart service will be broadcast on ACCTV, streamed on commongrace.org.au and with a simulcast on radio networks across these lands now called Australia.
I love the heart of the Common Grace movement who have led this pursuit of justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are Australian and want to be a people who pursue Jesus, alongside justice. Their phrase, “Together for the common good, finding common ground and sharing in common grace” makes me want to continue to change and be more like Jesus.
How would Aunty Jean most likely respond to the question, “How do we fix [insert past or present problem here]?”
“The cross has all the answers!”
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html