It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
To declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night…
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
At the works of your hands I sing for joy. – Psalm 92
Last week saw our 5/6 class journey to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. It was a wonderful camp and we give thanks for all involved with organising and running it.
At Sovereign Hill, the students had the opportunity to experience what life was like during the 1850s Gold Rush era – including attending school, dressing in period costume and undertaking mining and other trade tasks (even cleaning up manure!)
On the Thursday evening we watched a representation of the Eureka stockade. The students greatly enjoyed learning about history in such a real and tangible way. As I watched the students eagerly take in the unfolding events, I noted the involvement of the church in the person of Father Smyth.
The Eureka Stockade caused significant loss of life from both the protesting miners and the government police forces. In a time of great tension, Father Smyth did what he could to encourage both sides to seek peace. When violence broke out, he placed his life in danger to attend to the wounded and give comfort to the dying. Despite witnessing a terrible event, following the event he wrote “…better times I hope are dawning…May we have the good and just things that our people look for.”
It is not easy to look at the world with this type of hope, a hope that gives thanks to God in both good and bad times. In Australia our lives are generally comfortable; we are well fed, well housed and can freely express our faith and politics. The Eureka Stockade reminds us that it was not always this way in our country and it also calls us to remember those in our community who are not well fed or well housed. We also remember the myriad of nationalities that lost life at the Eureka Stockade in defence of justice and fairness for all.
At Sunshine Christian School, it is important for our community to share Father Smyth’s outlook on the world and to do as the Psalmist encourages us to do, “to declare God’s steadfast love in the morning, and his faithfulness by night”. As our students experienced firsthand, the early migrants to the Goldfields had little. Yet amongst their own problems, many put aside their own comfort in order to uphold the values of God. They suffered in order to protect the weak, to speak for truth, and they looked forward to a better time. Many diligently worshipped God in churches with dirt floors and flimsy cloth walls.
May the hopeful spirit of the early migrants of Australia inspire us to give thanks to our God at all times and work for justice and fairness.