I ranted yesterday…..let me share my deep love for the United Church of Canada today.
Monday morning, my tears joined those of others during opening worship. We listened to a young man, Joshua walk on the stage singing of a parents disowning him due to his sexuality, and then watched as he was joined by two friends to hold him. A young girl, Elaine, sang of disenchantment with the world that she was inheriting…of war and climate change.
We joined to sing their song…..”I am a child of God, nothing can shake my confidence, I am a child of God, no one can take my inheritance. Never alone we’ll stand, strengthened by God’s own hand, I am a child…….”
Those in the court who participate on wondercafe remember the voices of the youth who post, most recently FG, as they walk the journey of Josh…and we pray for a world that continues to know the importance of that knowledge shared by the church. Thank God for the courage of those at GC in ’88…and for the courage of the congregations that have continued to make the hard journey to knowledge…for it is with that knowledge we learn of injustices that we have perpetrated.
Our journey continued as we listened to more intercultural voices… past the superficial celebrations and welcome to a true valuing and interconnectedness of community.
We learned the wisdom of going to Tadadaho from the Onondaga – so that we may too create a peace that lasts a 1000 years from a wise sister, Susan from the 6th Nations. She shared the language of welcome Sago, Skano and many others….asking us “Do we hold the Great Peace?”
We laughed as Emmanuel talking about his response when told worship was an hour at a church…… “I come from a place where the first hour is just warmup”. We listened to his wisdom of carrying baggage, sharing and leaving some behind.
Time and time again…we were shared the wisdom of those who were around us…and the riches that reside in the Grace Margin…a place where each of us can give something and can take something…the space between Safe Zone and Fear Zone.
I personally had a hard time following one of the presentations, as it was a presentation of the Meaning of Ministry – done without powerpoint, without much life, and without much story. As an individual who is not an auditory learner…and for the youth surrounding my sitting…it was snooze time. Sadly, this was an important report in many ways. I am thankful for the opportunity we had for table group time on this one, so that those who were order of ministry at our table were able to see that our disconnect was not on the importance of the subject, but rather the lack of care in the presentation. Thank goodness for the wisdom of placing playdough at the tables!
Then….the truly hard time started….
We listened to the stories of Indian Residential School Survivors, as they gave witness to the impact of the decisions made re children. My heart was broken, as one man said he had “wished he had never grown up enough to go to school”. We listened to an elder who was sent to the school from 8 years old and was abused until he left at 14. We heard that their stories had not been able to be told to the Catholic church.
rEvolve led us in a hymn of respect…..”I heard God’s voice in your voice” “I am broken now, but known in this embrace”. May we truly live those words…to hear God’s voice and not rush to move on…to recognize the importance of listening and healing in the whole community.
As the speakers left the stage, they received a standing ovation from the court. A show of respect and solidarity for these strong voices for truth and reconciliation.
I am thankful for those who stood for justice in 1986 and then, in 1988. The first, in 1986, was to address issues related to the church’s role in imposing European culture on First Nations’ peoples. The second apology, from 1998, was for the legacy of Indian Residential Schools more specifically. Again, they leave an example of how we are called to lean into justice….walking a path where we will not always receive best wishes..but rather be the target of the slingshots from afar.
May we in the court today, remember this great history of our United Church of Canada, as we ponder the Israel/Palestine proposals.
May we live out the call to justice as spoken through the social gospel. It is an important journey we are taking, being watched by those around the world, from multiple perspectives.
If we can remember how we are called to be….then we will walk the right path to justice.
Peace to all this day..and hold the court in your prayers.