This Sunday, we kick off a month-long exploration into a discussion that affects all of us. For the next few weeks, we’re going to look into one of the moments in history when church was not at its best. And we need to hear this truth.
The recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, published in 2015, details just how much churches participated in the systemic cultural genocide of First Nations people across the country of Canada. And this doesn’t include just particular denominations or particular churches. It largely includes all of us who were doing church in Canada over the last 200-300 years.
But we believe there is hope. Hope both for our First Nations brothers and sisters and for the church. The TRC is a step forward in hope. Now, the next step is for us to listen, learn,and discern how we will respond to the evidence of history.
This Sunday, Tom Neufeld will share with us on some of the history behind the church’s colonialism and exploitation of First Nations peoples, and he will share this within the context of stories within the Bible itself where people of faith decided that it was okay to harm and exclude a particular race or group of people.
To get the conversation started, here’s a video from Mennonite Church Canada connected to the TRC sessions that took place in Montreal in 2013. We think this will be of great value for you to check out before we begin on Sunday
Open conflict in the church is a very ugly thing. No one wants to see followers of the Prince of Peace going at it tooth and nail. It really leaves a negative taste in people’s mouths.
So does that mean we try to get along in God’s house? Well, hopefully! But it also means that sometimes we just hide or submerge our conflicts, we veil our hostility. And that isn’t healthy either.
We have to face it, no group of people is going to be without conflict. That’s a fact of life. The issue we have as the church is whether we can agree and disagree in love.
This week we’re going to try to address what to do about dividing walls of hostility. But before we do that we have to really take a deep look and ask ourselves, what are these dividing walls?
This week’s prayer: Dear Lord, give us eyes to see the walls we make, so we may work these walls to break!
A post by Gerald Ens, pastoral intern.
Last year I took a course in Christian ethics. That class, a four month intellectual roller coaster ride, was one of most profoundly unsettling (in a good way – or at least so it seems more than a year later) experiences of my life. Among numerous other challenges, our professor, Harry Huebner, pushed us to understand ethics as a way of seeing the world. Christian ethics, then, is seeing the world as something that God is actively restoring – or to take the theme of my sermon, something that God is actively reconciling – and becoming a person that is better able to see where God is acting. One of the challenges with this understanding of ethics and the world is that it is often difficult to see how and where God is working in our very broken world. Often it takes a lot of practice to be someone who sees God’s reconciling activity.
The main text for my sermon on Sunday is John 21 – the story of Jesus’ reconciliation with Peter. I believe that this story speaks to the brokenness we often see around us. It informs us of the true state of the world, where the risen Christ confronts brokenness and restores it. This story shows us that Christ is, quite simply, reconciling all of creation…or at least that’s how I see it.
We hear the word enemy pretty often. It`s a concept we have pretty down pat by the time we are five. We know that the evil stepmother, the big bad wolf and the dragon are the enemy. We know that they are trying to destroy us. We know to cheer when enemies die. That`s child`s play for you.
By the time we get to be adults the characters have changed but the story line is the same. The enemy varies; the person who cheated you in business, the person who stole your wife away from you, the father who abused you, the one who always sabotages you at work. Or maybe it`s groups of people; gangs, drug dealers, thieves. We cheer when they get their just reward. Right now public enemy #1 is Moammar Gadhafi. A lot of people will be cheering if he dies.
But as children of God we are playing a different game, with entirely different rules. God wants us to think differently about the enemy category. This Sunday we’ll be looking at Nineveh, who Jonah and Israel considered to be Public Enemy #1. God has hopes and plans for Nineveh’s repentance. This totally blows Jonah’s categories.
I need you to come to church on Sunday morning thinking about who your enemies are. God is the great Game Changer; you may have come in with your enemies, but will you leave with them?
This week’s prayer: God, you know my heart. You know the lines I’ve drawn, who is in and out, who is friend and who is foe. Give me insight into the dividing walls, and what you want to do with them.
Take some time this week to check out a blog by Willard Metzger, General Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada. It’s a little window into what the Mennonite church looks like from a national perspective: http://willardmetzger.blogspot.com/
Anyone who has ever taken care of multiple children for any length of time has probably had this experience: one child hurts another. You bring them together and ask one to “Say sorry!” And if you have a good memory, you can probably remember the tone of that sorry. I have heard too many surly sorries!
You can’t get a sorry on demand. You can’t manufacture a sorry. You can’t manipulate a sorry. A sorry has to come from inside. Telling someone to “say sorry” might be good advice, but it often doesn’t get results. The real issue is what is in someone’s heart.
I think back over all the times I’ve tried to get people to say sorry. Maybe it was the wrong approach. Maybe what was more important was whether I was saying sorry. Was I modelling what I was trying to teach? Did I say sorry often enough? Did I mean it from my heart?
This Sunday we’re going to be looking at a broken family in the Bible, and using it as a springboard to think about the brokenness in our own lives. Why is it so hard to say sorry? Where is God in this picture?
This week’s prayer: God, give me an open heart, a clean heart, a heart that can see where a sorry is needed.