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I wonder if there was ever a time in your life when you felt displaced? I remember when Andi and I were falling in love and starting to think about marriage. At the time, we were living in Calgary, my hometown. It was a requirement for priests of the Anglican Church there, and still is, that if you wished to get married and you were in a same-sex partnership, that you ask permission of the bishop. At the time, marriage between same-sex couples was not permitted in the Anglican Church. While it is now permitted in every major urban centre in Canada, Calgary remains the only one where to this day, it is not allowed. Andi and I knew going into our meeting with the bishop that marriage was not permitted. Nevertheless, I remained hopeful. Maybe putting our story out there and making it known that we were seeking the blessing of the church would somehow move the needle?

I remember when we received the answer from our bishop, that it was a ‘no’ to marriage, how it felt as if the floor beneath us had suddenly fallen through. It’s not that I expected the answer to be any different—I knew where the Bishop stood on the issue—it was just that now there was a formality to it. 

We had officially been displaced. We would likely never marry in my hometown in the Church that I (and Andi by proximity as my partner) had dedicated my life to. It was a deeply disorienting experience resulting in strained relationships with colleagues and family members as we tried to navigate what this meant for us going forward. 

It meant that, ultimately, we would leave my home and move to Vancouver where there was hope on the horizon for partnerships like ours. It also meant living away from immediate family and living month to month for the foreseeable future with housing insecurity as we became renters in one of the most expensive cities in the world. It meant leaving behind a community of friends who had loved us into being the young queer people we were growing up to be, and heading into a city notorious for social isolation and loneliness—especially among working professionals. 

Now, standing before you here today, you know how this story ends (or rather, continues). After a historic gathering of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada in 2019, marriage between same-sex partners became a reality in the Diocese of New Westminster. Andi and I were married in 2022 at the Cathedral downtown, in an Anglican liturgy with all of the fixings. We were surrounded by friends and family—including our church family of St Clement’s, who came out in droves not only to attend our wedding but to host a beautiful reception on the plaza of the Cathedral’s front steps. 

Marriage, for us, was nothing short of transformative. Having access to this ceremony of the church was deeply re-orienting. There has been since that time a mending of relationships where there had been fractures. Though housing insecurity continues to be a concern and social isolation an ever-present threat in a city as transient as Vancouver, and though we continue to live further from our parents and siblings than we’d like, we have a place here. A community here. A deep connection to my English heritage and ancestry through the Anglican Church where now we fully belong. 

In the Eucharistic Prayer written by the Salal + Cedar Watershed Discipleship Ministry, there’s a line that goes, “We give thanks for our place in the story of salvation. Our ancestors journeyed with you in creation and migration. They depended on the land, were displaced from the land and displaced others from their lands.” 

When you hear the word “displaced” in the context of this National Indigenous Day of Prayer, you might know where this sermon is going. That, in part, today is about pausing to remember that every single Indigenous person in Canada will have experienced displacement from their land, culture, language, spirituality, and family at some point in their life. My experience of displacement as a queer person is not the same or equal to the displacement of Indigenous people. I share it as a starting point for reflection as we celebrate in the month of June Pride month and National Indigenous Peoples Month side by side. 

When I meet or dream or plan or spend time with Indigenous people, I try to remember that displacement is a very real part of Indigenous people’s stories. I try to remember that, the anger mixed with hope mixed with disappointment mixed with joy mixed with love mixed with sadness mixed with thanksgiving mixed with fear that I feel when I think about my own story of displacement, that those are feelings that an Indigenous person could be experiencing in their own way and with their own history when they’re hanging out with me or at St Clement’s or here in Lynn Valley. 

When I try to think of an analogy to illustrate this mix of  feelings, I think of the disciples being knocked about by the waves while they were in the boat with Jesus. How there is this fierce commitment to being out in the boat because they’re fishermen, and that’s who they are, fishing is what they do, and the sea is where they belong, where their families have drawn their livelihood since time immemorial. Being out on the water is where they experience joy, meaning, and wellbeing. But, also, life would be a whole lot easier if there wasn’t a storm threatening to turn over their boat at any moment!

When the disciples are being rocked about in their boat by the storm, Jesus invites them to give themselves over to faith, rather than fear. I would like to invite us to do the same when it comes to learning about Indigenous culture and reconciliation. Jenn Ashton, a parishioner here at St Clement’s, a member of the Squamish Nation, and someone who is currently discerning ordination to the diaconate in the Anglican Church of Canada, she has put together a resource page on the St Clement’s website. I want to commend it to you on this National Indigenous Day of Prayer as a faithful next step in reconciliation. As the old Collect goes, please “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it.” In so doing, may your faith be strengthened and your fear stilled. And, may peace abound. Amen.