In recent years, countries such as America, Canada, and Australia have been confronting the sins of their past, particularly their treatment of indigenous people. This year, the government of Australia returned some areas of land that had been taken from indigenous people in their country.
Read this article to your teens (or invite students to read it individually or in small groups):
Daintree: World Heritage rainforest handed back to Aboriginal owners
Historically, the Australian government took the land belonging to indigenous people, leaving people homeless and displaced. While the process of reconciliation has begun, the Australian government had to acknowledge their mistakes for this process to begin.
- How do you imagine it felt to be the government trying to make amends for their poor treatment of others? To be an indigenous Australian receiving these amends? (Accept all reasonable answers. For the government, there might be shame for the past, hope for the future. Some students may comment that it is unfair that the government has to apologize for the past government’s wrongs. Indigenous Australians may have felt thankful or dignified; perhaps others felt it is too little too late.)
- What do you think about making amends or an apology for something that happened in the past? (Accept all reasonable answers. Consider the value in speaking the words of apology rather than ignoring the wrongs. Consider that understanding and healing might be a result of saying sorry, even if belatedly.)
- Is an apology all that is needed to reconcile these people to one another? What else might be needed? (Accept all reasonable answers. While a verbal apology is good start, actions speak louder than words. Taking action to amend for the suffering and ensuring equal treatment now and in the future is the work of true reconciliation.)
Reconciliation is not easy, but it is worth it. Whether as a country or an individual, where there is brokenness and alienation, we ought to seek wholeness and reconciliation. This is true on a spiritual level as well. The chasm our sin creates between us and God is so big, we can’t possibly bridge it with our words or actions. But, thankfully through Jesus, God extends reconciliation.