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The Song Keepers

We’ve just been to see the documentary film of the above name.  We found it very stirring as the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir prepared to go to Germany to sing the old German/Lutheran hymns in their own language.

What an adventure it was for those women (and one man) not only in the rehearsals for the performances  to be given in a strange land but in the  packing, the nervousness flying for the first time and leaving their beloved Australia for the first time. Gaining passports for the firs time as some had no birth certificates.

The pastor who organised them was exhausted on the day of departure

Their excitement was palpable. Getting on the bus with all their luggage, travelling to Alice Springs,the airport, boarding the plane and the subsequent flight to Munich was like a dream come true.

When the choir appeared for their first performance they looked incredible with the indigenous designs of their clothes and the smiles that lit up their faces. They brought the house down each time they sang in the Lutheran Services.  They relived the stories that their parents and grandparents had told them when they were young. They sang the praises of the white missionaries who had taken them in and protected them from those who would steal  the children.

These were the ones who lived the gospel that they preached,showing compassion and care and seeking  for justice  for the aboriginal people they had come to love.

The words of those songs translated from English that may seem foreign to us today,nevertheless carried a message of hope.  Surely,what we need  today are songs that speak to us couched in terms that we can understand and identify with .  And there are  some that have words that are not out of date and speak of situations that we really know in our world but not nearly enough.

lf our interpretation  of the gospel that we seek to bring to the 2018 world is changing,it is to be hoped  songs we sing will mirror that and will be carried by the next generations as those songs of the early Lutheran missionaries were .  Hopefully in generations to come, they too will interpret the gospel for their day and new songs will emerge that speak of love. compassion, justice, peace and hope; songs that can be translated into other languages and used to speak of the way of the Carpenter of Nazareth.

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What is unity in the Church?

Unity in the church is sometimes misunderstood as uniformity, but as we are all different individuals in the way we think, behave and worship,  unity has other connotations.

Unity involves  respect, acceptance of diversity, working together, listening, co-operation, forgiveness, tolerance, love and communication .  That’s quite a list! It’s a list that those who still belong to the church must work hard at, as the community of faith

In each situation where we find that we may have disunity  and problems may occur or have occurred, we have to find strategies to seek for unity.  It is as if it has to roll around in our whole being, in our minds, in our hearts, in our awareness and take us back to the prayer Jesus prayed for his disciples : John 17: 11 “….that they may be one.” I guess we have to rethink our own priorities, look at things in a different way and be prepared to incorporate that list at the top of the page into our every thought, action and prayer, however we may perform the latter. And it’s not easy but it’s worthwhile, because when we learn to deal with ideas, opinions, and attitudes that are sometimes very different to anything we may have thought of, our lives begin to follow more closely that of the Jesus we see in the written gospels.

As 21st century Christians “unity in diversity” is our mantra.