It has been a significant year for us as a church, a year without singing and meeting together in one place with our characteristic intergenerational chaos. And yet when I trace back to the start of the year, with a small group hosting our first Aboriginal Sunday as a church, through to now as we approach 2021’s Aboriginal Sunday and being part of the #ChangeTheHeart gathering, there has been a powerful journey of communal justice seeking. Our growing Change the Heart team (you can see where we pinched our name from!) – nine of us on the last count, meets to pray, share what we are learning and encourage one another as we then spur on and guide our church community in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice. We have shared books, blogs and podcasts with one another, prayed and planned together and shared dinner with Brooke Prentis who we have come to know as a dear friend.
House church has been a key part of how we gathered this year, combined with pop up prayer weeks and evening online explorations of everything from creating a rule of life, creativity and a key theme we have returned to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice. The restrictions have pushed us to be more creative about how we meet together and we’ve reflected again on how we explore discipleship and seeking justice as an inescapable part of following Jesus.
House church has been a real gift to us, gathering in several groups of 10-20 children and adults in different homes and backyards each week across Dee Why and surrounding areas. We have been able to still safely share in food together, heard from different and new voices as we took turns to lead elements of our time together and just before Christmas we were even able to sing (masked) outside. We have found ourselves prayer walking, creating responses to the Bible story with the natural elements we find outdoors and taking off our shoes to connect with the land, more naturally than we might have in a more traditional church venue. We celebrated NAIDOC week twice as a church, once in its usual spot in July and then again in November when it happened nationally, and both were significant times for us a community. It felt fitting to be in our house churches, taking off our shoes together in several backyards and sharing our own Acknowledgement of Country which reflected the journey we had gone on and continue on, as we learn more about the land we gather and worship on and the traditional custodians of the land. Encouraged by Brooke, we hope it will continue to evolve as we learn and grow in friendship and reconciliation with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.
On the evening before 26th January we are looking forward to joining with thousands of others to answer the call to prayer to #ChangeTheHeart of this nation. We are partnering with our Salvo friends to have one central gathering at Dee Why Salvos, sadly with restrictions no longer with a shared dinner ofcourse. And although we can’t currently meet as house churches, we will be encouraging much smaller gatherings at homes too. This feels like a moment of national significance and an important next step for us in our own communal justice seeking, as we hope to learn, pray and act together.
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Alex Drew works for Global Sisters as their Digital Community Engagement Manager helping make business possible for women who are unable to participate in mainstream employment or access sustainable work. She and her husband Dan, lead an intergenerational Baptist church plant on the Northern Beaches with a hybrid model of connecting both online and gathering in person in Dee Why and surrounding areas. They moved to Australia from the UK in 2018.
You can find out more about the #ChangeTheHeart Services for 2021 here and you can make your place available or attend a local gathering.
Photos used with permission