A reflection on Matthew 5:6 for Sunday, February 27, 2022 at Mosaic Baptist Church.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6 (NRSVA)
This week at Mosaic we welcome Rev’d Neville Naden, a First Nations pastor from northern New South Wales who works for Bush Church Aid. Neville is among us to encourage our understanding of the cultures that have existed in Australia for milenia. We now know that these cultures represent the oldest continual civilisations in existence today.
Something we ought to be very proud of.
Wonderfully, there is a renewed interest in the language and culture of our First Nations Peoples. Australian universities are teaching local languages. Major gatherings across the nation conduct ‘acknowledgment’ and ‘welcome to country’ ceremonies. Aboriginal people are finding a voice beyond their already significant contribution to sport and the arts.
Of course, there is still work to be done. Many remain ignorant of the extent of Australia’s violence toward our indigenous citizens. Both massacre and child relocation have occurred within living memory with the legacy of these practices still weighing on those closest to these events. Today First Nations people are more likely to suffer underemployment, the results of alcohol and drug abuse, and incarceration.
Increasingly, an awareness of the burden carried by too many is dawning on us. This is good. Painful – but also good and healing.
Over this week it is my simple prayer that we as a community who are learning to follow Jesus will not only hear Neville’s stories of hurt and hope, but also courageously embrace the promise of the fourth beatitude as our own. Perhaps this week we wil learn to ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness’ in a new way. Perhaps we will be offered a glimpse of the extent our indigenous peoples ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness’.
Righteousnessis can all too easily be heard as a call to personal and private piety. It is not. Many commentators now acknowledge that the Greek term, dikaiosune, includes – but also goes far beyond – a pure heart before God. It includes the deeper and broader call to corporate justice. There is reason that many now translate this as ‘righteousness/justice’. It contains within it the broader implications of ‘what God requires’ and ‘righting wrong’.
As this beatitude promises, this may leave us feeling empty for a time – even where there is no personal guilt. Yet here Jesus also promises that this path is a healing path that leads to satisfaction. The path being ‘blessed’ and ‘filled’ often goes through ‘hunger and thirst’.
Below is a the Bush Church Aid Acknowledgment of Country. It invites us to humbly see God at work in the events of our shared history, to be grateful for our First Nations, and to acknowledge and respect their ongoing place in our shared story.
Perhaps it is not a good place for healing to end. It is, however, a good – and creative – place to start.
“We acknowledge the triune God, the Creator of heaven and earth and His ownership of all things. (Psalm 24:1) We recognise that He gave stewardship of these lands upon which we meet to the First Nations Peoples of this country (Acts 17:26). In His sovereignty, He has allowed other people groups to migrate to these shores. We acknowledge the cultures of our First Nations Peoples and are thankful for the community that we share together now. We pay our respects to the Ngunnawal people and their elders, both past and present, and those who are rising up to become leaders.”
(Bush Church Aid Acknowledgment of Country).
How does the promise of this beatitude prepare you to hear from Rev’d Neville Naden this week? In what ways does it give you hope?
What are you open to hearing from this week at Mosaic? What are you fearful of hearing?