Prayers of the people
Watch or 45:11
God of all creation, we pray for your people, the First Peoples of this land, created in your image, who have walked as one with the land and fashioned the world’s oldest continuous human culture. You were present in these lands long before the colonisers came. May we learn to meet you here, including by learning from the First Peoples’ understanding of Country.
Country is all of your wondrous creation. More than a place, it is a sense of identity, belonging, groundedness and home. May we, who have come later, find our place in this Country – accepting both the welcome we have been offered, and the responsibilities that true belonging brings.
We pray that the First Peoples’ understanding of Country is recognised as part of our national heritage. That the true history and knowledge of language, culture and traditional practices are taught in schools and used to inform future discussion in work to close the gap between First and later peoples in health, life expectancy, education, housing, incarceration rates and so many other areas.
We pray that First Peoples’ understanding of Country may be sought out and valued in the face of increasing climate crisis and ecological destruction, and that corporations and governments listen when First Peoples say no to using their lands for greed and profit.
May the voices of First Peoples be heard as they seek to provide culturally safe healthcare, such as the Yolgnu women of Galiwin’ku in remote Elcho Island, bringing cultural knowledge into the medical understanding of pregnancy and childbirth to decrease high premature birth rates and enable more Galiwin’ku women to give birth on country.
May First Peoples be heard as they revive and revitalise their cultural languages, and engage their children in learning. The language revival program of the Kullilli people near Thargomindah is rebuilding knowledge and identity lost through displacement from Country; while the “two way” education system being developed in Arnhem Land and elsewhere blends culture and language with literacy and numeracy skills.
We pray that governments and other authorities strengthen measures to recognise, protect, and promote all aspects of First Peoples’ culture and heritage for all peoples of this land now called Australia. This includes the returning of land to First Peoples for cultural custodianship and management, a vital part of healing country. Signified close to home last week, with the news that the Wurundjeri and Bunurong peoples have come to a new agreement over the management of Naarm, or Melbourne, and surrounding areas.
We pray that Elders and communities fighting for significant institutional, structural and collaborative reform may see justice, in the form of Recognition, Truth-Telling and Treaty. Help us all to play our part in these, without which, the Healing of Country cannot truly occur.
We pray all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, your son and our brother,
Clare Keogh, offered for worship 11/07/2021, NAIDOC Week