Image (detail): The 2022 National NAIDOC Poster incorporating the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag (licensed by the Torres Strait Island Council).

Ryhia Dank, a young Gudanji/Wakaja artist from the Northern Territory is the winner of the prestigious National NAIDOC poster competition for 2022 with her entry, Stronger.

“I created this piece after reading this year’s National NAIDOC Week theme – Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! I knew straight away I wanted to do a graphic piece centred around our flags with text highlighting what we have been through and are still fighting for,” said Ryhia. “I feel that this piece being black and white allows us to focus on the details and messages in the artwork.”

‘Two by two

Andrew Collis
Ordinary Sunday 14, Year C
Luke 10:1-11,16-20

The word “mission” is fraught with danger (beware ravenous wolves!). Depending on the context, on lived experience, “mission” can mean purpose, good intentions, control, colonialism, fear and trauma … as well as the mission of Christ … vulnerable openness … the mission of God to make and to mend …

Our “mission statement”, crucially, centres on the mission of God: “With Christ, we dare … together … We are open … We share … We seek to overcome …”

In today’s gospel, 72 disciples (the number connotes diversity, all of us) are sent out to live simply. Their field education entails working in pairs (as Miriam regularly encourages) …

Two by two, disciples learn mutual trust and respect. Two by two, they embody vulnerable openness – receptive to the kindness of strangers, dependent on the go(o)dness of others …

Two by two, they go from door to door, but do not move from house to house (as more ambitious missionaries seeking ever improved conditions might do) … The mission of God calls for patience, commitment …

“Stay,” says Jesus. “Stay and listen – receive what is given in good faith, eat and drink, read and digest what is offered. Accept the gifts of those who welcome you, for in this Spirit of hospitality much can be accomplished.” 

The theology of mission in view here is marked by cultural/spiritual exchange – genuine care and interest, risk, wonder … dilation (expanded hearts and horizons).

“Don’t worry about being successful,” we might hear Jesus continue, “so much as sharing a vision of peace in a way that means real participation, here and now, addressing urgent needs.”

I recall Tyson Yunkaporta’s Sand Talk – which presents Indigenous wisdom as deeply connected wisdom. “[I]f you listen to many voices and stories and discern a deep and complex pattern emerging,” he writes, “you can usually determine what is real …”

Our church website is configured/coloured as a means of holding such a vision. South Sydney Uniting Church is a “congregation-community-garden” … where faith encounters faith, hope enlivens hope, love enables love.

Two by two, disciples symbolise partnership, kinship. We follow them as we, too, form partnerships in/for ministry, in/for discovery.

We give thanks, then, for ministry partners – the Big Issue and CatholicCare, Counterpoint Community Services and Blak Douglas, Murray Gillett and Jenny Leong; United Theological College and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress; the Cooperative youth opera company and guitarist Tomas Lorenzo …

Two by two … First Peoples and Second Peoples walking/working together – in ministry that acknowledges what First Peoples have been through and are still fighting for. Ryhia Dank’s NAIDOC Week poster art features the following inscriptions: White Australia has a Blak history! No pride in genocide! Close the gap! Stop stealing our kids! Blak lives matter! Health care! Justice! Land rights! Stop the lies! Stolen Wages!

“Expect hostility and rejection,” Jesus says (foolish/devilish forces – “narcissistic” (Yunkaporta) – oppose true wisdom and sustainability). “And yet, proclaim peace/shalom/justice wherever you go.”

The gospel poses questions and invites our prayerful response – personal, relational, denominational, national …

Who have been the important partners for you in your life? Who have been the important partners in ministry, in discovery, in your life of faith? What has made them so important? 

How simply ought we live? How simply ought we proclaim the gospel? What over-complicates genuine encounter with others and what distracts us from addressing urgent needs in the community?

Two by two, disciples return with joy.

“If people are laughing, they are learning,” Yunkaporta observes. “True learning is a joy because it is an act of creation.”

Two by two, disciples return with joy, saying, “Rabbi, even the demons obey us in your name!” Jesus says, “Don’t rejoice in the fact that the spirits obey you so much as that your names are inscribed in heaven.”

“What Jesus invites us to imitate is his own desire, the Spirit that directs him toward the goal on which his intention is fixed: to resemble Abba God [Love] as much as possible” (René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning).

This is the good news. We – all of us, all of us in right relationship: standing up/showing up for one another – are inscribed in holiness, our names within the divine Name, the very mission of God whose being is love. Amen.