We are faced with a confusion of voices this morning like tangled yarn. So our first task is untangling the threads knotted together by the day.
It is Father’s Day.
Graduates are being cheered in a time of ‘alternative celebrations.’
It is the first day in over six months that we are back together in church in some degree – Alleluia!
It is the Sunday closest to the annual National Indigenous Peoples Day, first declared in Canada in 1996.
All vying for our attention. All are possible places from which the Spirit is speaking – or whispering – to the church, and to you, to me.
The basket in which these threads lie is context. Context: the shock and grief of terrible discoveries, the loss and demand - and life-changing impact - of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Context: the beautiful region of Lynn Valley; and of metro Vancouver, a social world made up of diverse peoples, many of whom were not part of the Canada in which Residential Schools were the ‘answer to the aboriginal problem’ on the one hand, and an ‘opportunity to learn the skills necessary to live in the new, (euro-centric) world.
So what is the Spirit saying to the church this morning?
Are the words of Isaiah, “those that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall rise up with wings like eagles” spoken to Indigenous communities focused on healing and recovery?
Are they spoken to us as we move from pandemic to what I hear is being called “Covid-tide”? “those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”
How, then, are we waiting as St. Clement’s looks forward to the arrival of a new parish pastor and priest, as the church looks forward to gathering in the flesh again …?
Does this describe the time we are in, as families and friends separated for months and even longer – and have we missed it in our lament and complaint? A time of Waiting.
“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” Paul writes in Philippians. Are these the directions we are most particularly to pay attention to at this time? They will hold us in a discipline of gratitude, which can only come from awareness; a discipline of choosing what to pay attention to because what we pay attention to shapes our reality.
How do they whisper to us at a time of lament for past arrogance and ignorance? Are they words spoken too soon when we consider the necessary truth in order to truly enter into reconciliation?
Perhaps they are directions to us – telling us what we need to pay attention to when we look at one another – Aboriginal at whites, white – colonists, or settlers or immigrants long after – at Canada’s First Peoples? Do they apply further – how all people in this nation might look at one another and our differences?
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Gd and the Word was Gd… All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”
“And without him not one thing came into being . . .”
Somehow we missed that. Somehow, we thought only we had come into being through him, and the rest of the world, of the peoples were … something less.
“Without him not one thing came into being. . .” At the least the Spirit calls us to look at the world with new eyes, at every piece and part of it, from greatest to tiniest, as having being because of the Word, through the Word.
Becoming conscious with this “mind of Christ” perspective, we can do what the Spirit whispers through Paul, “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the Gd of peace will be with you.”
When we welcome the refuge: see them as created through Christ.
When we engage the community: remember it is Christ’s.
When we pray for and respectfully seek a relationship of reconciliation with First Nations people: confess that what was once not seen is now what we see: without the Word not one thing came into being – not one thing. We recognize the hand of Gd in people we once called foreigners, barbarians, other. The same hand by which we have come into being.
We have been learning these last thirty years – 30 years! – that reconciliation and healing take time, that they take generations before full realization. So we must wait on the Lord, knowing that Gd will renew our strength over and over as we wait, trusting in Gd’s promise that we will rise up, together, like eagles.
What is the Holy Spirit say to us?
>Remember we are all created through the Word.
>Choose where we pay attention, not to deny past wrongdoings, but not to be defined by them, paralyzed by them, held down by them.
>Pay attention to the honorable and just, pleasing and commendable in the world around us, in the people who are different than “I” am.
>Practice gratitude and praise – and the energy of these things will set us free to walk in justice, compassion and peace.
Come, Holy Spirit: renew the heart of your people. Amen.