Personal Reflections From Australia Day
We live in a great country, one that still enjoys relative freedom. Today, like many days, we all have a lot to be thankful for. God has blessed our country in many ways and this really is a land of great opportunity for most people.
The arrival of the first fleet into Port Jackson on Jan 26, 1788, marks the beginning of triumph and terror. It was triumph for British Colonials as they claimed their new territory. But it was terror for the convicts on those ships and the original inhabitants of this great land.
Searching ancestral records to find where you came from can be difficult, especially if you have a surname that can be altered to hide you from the law. I have known for many years that the first few convicts to arrive here were Mary, Robert and Thomas Abel (on different boats). There is overlapping evidence that connects my family to these and others.
The christian message requires repentance for forgiveness. We are sorry and God forgives us.
This means if we have done something wrong we should say sorry, we should mean it, and we should face the consequences. It also means if I have been wronged I should forgive, especially if someone has said sorry and is trying to make amends.
January 26, 1788 was called Foundation Day, when the Brits landed and started to colonise what they called New Holland. On New Years Day 1901, the British Colonies of Australia formed a federation, marking the birth of modern Australia.
Today, Australia is a melting pot of cultural diversity. Some arrived to take over and beat others down, some were driven from their land, others were forced here with no hope of return. Many have migrated since those days with no understanding of our past. Then there are those of us who born here.
Maybe we should choose a different day to celebrate Australia? But we must certainly not choose another day to pretend we don't have a dark shadow in our past. So, I'm ok with celebrating today and I'm ok if we choose another day.
I guess the main thing is to approach any day with a spirit of humility and a great sense of gratitude. None of us are truly innocent. We are all in need of forgiveness. Celebrating Australia does not imply ignorance of the past. Let's continue to pray for our government, the people of Australia and all of our community groups and churches.
The most balanced approach I have read on this subject is from John Dickson on his Facebook profile.
My earnest prayer is that we build a strong nation that honours God, gives all humans an opportunity to flourish and inspires every country to do the same.
To all of us who live in this great south land, it's a privilege to call Australia home.