1st Scripture Reading: Psalm 42-43 (VU p.768)
Hymn p.766 VU “As the Deer Pants for the Water”
2nd Scripture Reading: Galatians 3: 23-29 & Luke 8:26-39
There is SO much going on this week! Today is Father’s Day, June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, and Canada Day is barrelling down on us on July 1!
Because of the fire at the hotel, there is a shortage of rental accommodation on the island, so lots of activity in my vacation rental property. Tomorrow is the deadline for the Express Lines – Church Notes is not in yet...
Sometimes I feel like there is not enough of me to go around. Do you ever feel like that? Yesterday I sent emails to both my sons, letting them know how much I appreciate what they do as fathers and husbands. I spent some time on the internet researching the Sliammon First Nations and their new treaty which came into effect April 5, 2016 and gives them clear ownership of their lands, and rights to self-government.
Then I researched Father’s Day and found out that it was initiated in the US by Sonora Dodd in 1913, who, along with five siblings was raised by a single dad! Not a common occurrence in those days. However, it didn’t become law until 1972 under President Nixon. Though still much less popular than Mother’s Day, Father’s Day has been steadily gaining in participation and in amounts of revenue generated.
I personally love that we can celebrate each of our parents equally. Are we not commanded to honour our parents? This is just one way, and a small one I agree, to honour and celebrate the gifts our parents have given us – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This might be a touchy subject for some, but I was not a perfect parent. My parents were not perfect parents – in fact many would call my family of origin pretty dysfunctional. But I came to grips with that when I had my first son as a single mom, and realized what an awesome responsibility I had taken on. I wrote to my father, from whom I had been estranged for years, thanking him for the gift of life he had given me, and for the years of dedicated care providing for my needs, and for his protection when I was young and foolish.
Under the seriously outdated Indian Act, the Canadian government took on a parental role with the indigenous peoples of this land – this land that had been their land until the Europeans came. This unfortunate stance led to a series of injustices to communities that were not infantile, only different. But those who have the power write the rules, and many injustices were perpetrated on the First Nations, Innuit, and Metis peoples – collectively known as Aboriginal or Indigenous peoples, the system of Residential Schools, and relegation to Reservations, being only two of them.
So here we are, meeting on the traditional lands of the Sliammon or Tla’amin Nation. The United Church of Canada is still deeply involved in a process of reconciliation with the survivors of the Residential Schools and their descendants. The church has officially apologized to the people so affected, and the Canadian government has officially apologized for the injustices that have been done.
We have stood down from the parental role in Canada, and the Sliammon First Nation has successfully completed a treaty process giving them full ownership and sovereignty over their lands, and rights to self-government as equal partners in the Canadian Federation.
Bad parenting can be a very dark thing. But healing and reconciliation are possible and what we as Christians are called to do in every aspect of our lives.
National Aboriginal Day was announced by then Governor General of Canada, Romeo Leblanc, in 1996 to be celebrated annually on June 21 – the longest day of the year – a time traditionally celebrated by many aboriginal cultures. As the scales have been stripped from our eyes, we have been able to see how vibrant, and rich and diverse these cultures truly are, and how just perhaps, there are things in them that might enrich the rest of the Canadian family.
If you look on the Sliammon First Nations website you immediately see this by-line: “One Heart, One Mind, One Nation”. Archeological sites (including one at Shelter Point) indicate that there have been people in this area for over 8000 years. The writer of the website tells us that these people have been “living in harmony with the land for thousands of years.”
“One Heart, One Mind, One Nation” – not “Every man for himself, to the winner go the spoils, or Greed is good, and I love money.” The land is our Mother, they say. Great Spirit is their Father. Indigenous cultures give huge respect to both. They honour their parents too – as we are commanded to do, but with a somewhat different perspective.
In a culture that celebrates the collective good, there is an expectation of sharing too. The necessities of life are shared as each has need. Our community has been demonstrating it’s collective love for our neighbourhood – for the people who are “family” here. The burning of the hotel has created a huge outpouring of love and support for the owners and the employees of this important part of our community.
Perhaps the children’s story this morning said it best: “When people are willing to share, there will always be enough for everyone.” We Canadians are learning to share. We are sharing both land and power with the people who were here first. We are sharing human rights and dignity with the LGBTQ community. We are sharing respect and acknowledgment of the strengths and compassion of both fathers and mothers in their roles as parents of the next generation.
And all of this learning entails healing – it involves the casting out of old demons, nasty beliefs that no longer serve us in this one world. We can no longer afford to believe leaders who tell us that others are “less than” we are. We have been released from the law, as Paul says in Galatians, because we have faith in God and in the teachings of Jesus. As we try to live into the new order of things, the Way of Love, the Way of Jesus, then we may come in conflict with the law. Christians are being persecuted right now in many parts of the world for what they believe – they are in conflict with the law of that country, as they try to live into God’s Way of Love. Paul says we have grown up (and this was 2000 years ago!) and no longer need the protective, parental custody of laws and regulations. We have minds that think, and hearts that know the truth. We are responsible to our Maker, heirs of the Promise, with all the responsibility of being God’s people in the world. And we are not alone. There are enlightened others in many countries, in many faith traditions, also trying to live in the Way of Love. Our way involves Jesus, but our way is not the only way. In One World, in the Unity of God, we are called, I believe, to come together as the People of God to live with respect in Creation and in Harmony with each other and with the Earth.