Sunday May 31st, 10:30 a.m.
I am returning from service as a member of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. It was a feast for the eyes on the screen, and I look forward to sharing some reflections of this experience in June. I begin this first Sunday back however with a reminder that the Bible uses listening, not seeing, as the predominant image for the way human beings come to know God, and grow spiritually (Think of the voice of the Holy One heard at the time of our Lord’s baptism and the beginning of his public ministry – ‘This is my own dear son – listen to him’ (Mark 9:7). ‘Listen’ to the scripture lessons in the Order of Service that follows: Psalm 85, Isaiah 46, John 4).
Listening involves a disciplined silencing of the self so the Other can be known. It is a dynamic as important to us in human community as in relationship with the Holy One – in listening we grow in understanding and in intimacy.
Next week the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will held in Ottawa. The TRC has been an opportunity for many Canadians, and many Christians, to listen to the experience of native sisters and brothers – it has not been easy, but it has been right and good. We join in prayer this morning for a new beginning in our relationship, one born of listening and of respect.
Last week on Pentecost we remembered that Christ calls out to each of us in our own languages to join his new, reconciled family and become ministers of reconciliation in this land. This week in Ottawa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will come to close. This ending is a new beginning – it represents the promise and responsibility of reconciliation. Throughout the Commission’s work, thousands of Indigenous people have bravely shared their stories of residential schools. These schools broke Indigenous families apart and were built on assumptions that Indigenous people and cultures were inferior or savage. The Pentecost vision of unity in Christ is broken. But Indigenous people have begun the journey of reconciliation by daring to tell their stories. Healing has already begun. (Christians) across Canada have listened. The painting you see on the screen was created by the late Cree artist Ovide Bighetty in a Stations of the Cross series of paintings called “Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin” – The Creators Sacrifice. This series was commissioned by the Christian Reformed Church’s Indian Metis Christian Fellowship in Regina. The painting is called “Creating a New Family” as Jesus connects John to his mother Mary. Our hope today is for a church and a nation that honours and celebrates the contribution of our Indigenous neighbours to our shared lives – may we be the new family that God calls us to be.