This past Sunday I failed to mention that the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is this coming Friday. And I felt a little remorse.
Too many people that look like me, who found Canada the way my ethnic group did, and enjoy what came with settlement, don’t feel the same way. The empathy and education that comes with what Truth and Reconciliation mean are just not realized by everyone. So waiting for another people group to ‘get over it’ or stop talking about it because it ‘just makes the problem worse’ somehow becomes rational. When I hear things of that nature I, as a pastor, try to imagine a person sitting in my office, working through abuse in their personal life, and wonder if any of those words would be appropriate. The answer of course is ‘no’.
I used to share some of that rhetoric on First Nations reconciliation. Partially through upbringing, partially through distance from anyone who would oppose the sentiments, and partially because I held to a wrong view of God at work in this world. Surprisingly, every kingdom that rules or holds wealth thinks that they are blessed by God. In that thinking, God then only blesses the strong, the conqueror, the invading, the settler. The one who took what they could and pushed the others out of the way. This line of thinking really works well, if you think you are at the apex of God’s blessings, and you have it all, heaven on earth. You earned it, you took it, you won it. It is yours.
Unfortunately, that does not bode well with the kingdom of God.
Paul interprets Jesus’ words in 2nd Corinthians on this matter, both towards Christ and in our relationships with one another, as being ‘ministers of reconciliation’. Everyone who knows Christ holds this title. Jesus said, ‘blessed are the peacemakers’, not the ‘peacekeepers’. Yet many people who look like me see this aspect of reconciliation as being ‘political’ or troubling, because it puts one person above another. Almost like saying Jesus would abandon the 99 in order to find the 1. That is just bad economics. Bad peacekeeping.
And yet so often the evangelical church, the one that proclaims Christ, me being a pastor proclaiming this message, forget that Jesus was seen as a political threat. He died a government’s punishment while declaring a kingdom that was not Rome.
This becomes a message of personal conviction, as I continually face truths in my own life, take account of areas of justice that do not line up, and ask God to open my eyes to his reality. It is in those moments that I seek out ways for others to be heard, that may have felt silenced, to create space for those who have felt cast out, to evaluate how actions of the past, even those I had nothing to do with, were harmful and require my action today. It is not about keeping the peace; it is about providing a path of justice for us all to live in peace together. To paraphrase, Jesus lowered himself so others could be lifted, and it did not make him weak.
That is my starting point on Orange Shirt day. Expressing kingdom values in a world lacking peace and justice.