Slideshow image

Picture: The logo for the National Indigenous Anglican Ministry. Read more about its creation and meaning here:

Much of my time these days is spent preparing for mine and Andi’s wedding, which is happening this August. There’s lots that goes into planning a wedding. Lots of it is hard work; kind of a drag (Have we organized the caterers? Did we get our marriage license? Is there enough parking at the church?). 

Some of it is just really fun! One of the really fun things we decided to do was to go ‘all out’ with our hair and make up. We booked stylists and make up artists. I had a trial session last Tuesday. So, I arrive at the make artists’ home; her studio is in her apartment in Burnaby. It’s kind of glamorous! You sit in this swivel chair and they’ve got all these Hollywood lights around you. The make up is all laid out like you’re getting done up for a movie or something. The only thing they don’t have is mirrors, because they want to have this big reveal at the end where you get to see the hair and make up together after it’s all done. 

So, I’m sitting in the chair, taking this all in, and the artist says, “So how many times a year do you get your make up done?”

I’m like, “You mean people do this on a regular basis?”

I tell her this the first time I’ve done this and it’s all really new to me.

She’s smiling, and applying the make up. And, I don’t know if you knew this, but when you get your make up professionally done, they literally paint your face. It’s amazing really, what goes into it.

About an hour into this appointment, I say to the artist, “So, when you’re not doing weddings, what kind of work do you do?” 

She says, “Oh, I work for the film industry.”

I’m thinking, “Okay, this is amazing! Maybe I’ll come out looking like Julia Roberts or Jennifer Lopez?”

Then, she says, “I do all of the special effects make up for monster and horror movies.”

(I am now holding on to the chair a little tighter. Remember: there are no mirrors!). 

Thankfully, the hair and make up turned out okay (I’m really quite excited about it, actually). But the point of my story is to say how this artist truly is incredible in her ability to work this huge spectrum: from making people feel beautiful and gorgeous and natural-looking on their wedding day all the way to blood and gore in the movies. 

With the same brush, to be able to paint beauty and horror. This is the image I want to focus on today. 

We live in a dual reality within Canada when it comes to the past, present, and future of Indigenous Peoples. It’s one of the reasons I’m really glad we observe two national events every year: Truth and Reconciliation Day in September and National Indigenous Peoples Day in June. It’s a good reminder that our history in Canada is twinned: there is all of the beauty and culture and vibrancy of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people as well as the history of colonization, church-run residential schools, and the ongoing ripple effects for Indigenous people in society today. 

We’re in the month of June, so today we’re in the first half of that twin-observance where we’re celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day. Today, in churches in particular, it is National Indigenous Day of Prayer. Did you know? The General Synod, the national governance body of the Anglican Church of Canada, they actually named this day a feast to be observed alongside other major feasts in the church calendar that take precedence over a Sunday. Feasts like, The Baptism of the Lord, St Mary the Virgin, The Transfiguration, Holy Cross Day. This is a celebration the Church really wants us to take seriously. 

So, on this National Indigenous Day of Prayer, I want to suggest three things that might help us observe this day well:

1) Take some time today to read or tell a good news story about Indigenous Peoples. I remember Kerry Baisley—the Indigenous Justice Missionioner for the Diocese—I still remember one of the first things he talked about when he took up that role was how pleased he was to see that on the CBC Indigenous webpage, 75% of the stories were good news stories. We need to read and we need to share good news stories about and told by Indigenous people. 

2) When you get invited to an event, or when there are events open to the public that are being hosted locally (Hoobiye, Nisga'a New Year happens every year down at the PNE), when there are events that have something to do with Indigenous peoples, make it a priority to actually go. In one of the last conversations I had with Vivian Seegers—who was a Cree woman, a Sundancer and a priest very dear to this community of St Clement’s—she invited me to come to Sundance. I haven’t made it yet; I hope we can go as a community she loved deeply to honour her invitation. 

3) There is a considerable number of people living in Canada who are Indigenous and who also identify as Anglican. Ray Aldred, who oversees the Indigenous Summer Program at Vancouver School of Theology, he always says, “You might be surprised to find that there are some Indigenous people who kinda like Jesus. They think he’s pretty alright.” 

It’s really important that as members of the Anglican Church of Canada (or occasional members or lurkers), it’s really important that we learn what’s meaningful and beautiful about Indigenous Anglican spirituality even as we learn the ways the Church has historically sought to demonize and erase Indigenous spirituality. 

Beth included a really beautiful prayer, a litany, at the back of today’s bulletin. Take it home with you and use it in your prayers this week. Check out the Indigenous Ministries page on the website, and, if nothing else, remember this: with the same brush we are capable of painting beauty and evil in the world. May God help us to choose beauty, this day and always. Amen.