The Sunday Hymn page has been updated to include October 30 and November 6, along with All Saints Day.
In Luke 7:36-8:3 we read the story of Jesus’ dinner at the home of a Pharisee. When he had arrived he was given none of the regular special treatment that would normally have been given to an honoured guest. When the woman he considered to be a sinner bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, kissed his feet and anointed them with ointment the host complained that the woman shouldn’t be touching him. The host went even further, saying that the fact that he allowed it was sure proof that Jesus was not a prophet. In response, Jesus told story about two men whose debts were forgiven and Pharisee agreed that the one forgiven more would be more grateful, he then showed how the woman had honoured him according to her great gratitude, while the Pharisee had not been very grateful at all. Jesus told the woman her sins were forgiven.
My friend and colleague Ron has much to forgive, and I feel honoured that he has given me permission to share a little of his story with you…Ron is from the Tobique Nation and used to teach with me at the High School in Oromocto. He is a keeper of the sweat. Growing up was a real combination of family and culture on reserve and discrimination off. He had friends who were taken to residential school. He went to day school with the nuns in his area for four years, and then to the regular local schools. His mother taught him to run home if he saw the RCMP and priest together. Ron tells of the culture shock of the school system and people assuming that he was stupid. Any time anything went wrong at the school they would round up all the native kids and line them up in the gym and demand a confession. They would leave them there for hours as there was most often nothing to confess. Ron and the other kids from the First Nation were treated just as the woman in the Gospel reading. And yet they had done nothing to deserve this. They were born, as were we all, just as God had intended, loved by God just as much.
At the General Assembly in 2010 time was spent looking about issues of the indigenous peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. One speaker was Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation, a Mi’kmaq community in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Chief Paul offered a glimpse into his painful experience with the residential school program: “For me, the residential schools issue is very difficult to think about, let alone talk about, to go back to that five-year-old that I left behind. I blamed government, religions, even God for what happened. But it was people that did this. And here I am today, ready to forgive. I am not only a survivor; I am a witness to this horrible history.”
Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, Marie Wilson then shared with the Assembly some insight into the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “A huge part of the story of the Commission is about our failure in the past to see the universally sacred, and revisit that,” the commission “is not a national guilt trip, but Canada’s chance to breathe new life into what the Constitution says.”
Wilson stated that “the point of residential schools was to remove the Indian from the child, so within a few decades there would be no ‘Indian problem’,” with the result that “three and four-year-old children were removed from their families and put into isolated communities, going months and years without family contact.” She asked the Commissioners, “What would you do if they came to take your child, just learning to talk, barely out of diapers?” One of the seven Truth and Reconciliation national events is coming up October 26-29th, 2011 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We continue to need to promote healing and reconciliation.
gkisedtanamoogk is a member of the Wampanoag Nation from Mashpee, “Massachusetts.” He is married to a woman from the Mi’kmaq Nation and lives with his wife and children at Esgenoopotiitj. Both the Wampanoag and Micmac Nations are part of the Wabanaki Confederacy of Nations. Gkisedtanamoogk works hard to educate and guide his people on the red path, and to open the eyes of non-aboriginal people to their unique way of viewing the world. In his book co-authored by Frances Hancock, Ceremony is Life Itself, he expresses what it is to live your life spirituality better than I have found it almost anywhere else…
“We structure our life on a Ceremonial Cycle…Our whole way of Life, Ceremonially speaking, is one continuous Song, one continuous Ceremony. The way we move is a Dance. Ceremony is Life itself. It is the way we do things. Ceremony, to us, is the daily Life; everything we do, everything we think about is all part of that same expression. From Planting the Corn to raising the Sacred Bundle, the Children, we are conscious that all Life is Sacred, that all Life is a Song; and we are thankful for it.”
“The construction of Giving Thanks is literally: I am exposing my enoughness, my fullness. It expresses that my needs are met. The condition of expressing that my needs are met, that the needs are met, is what we call Thanksgiving…I am up this morning. I have Life. I have risen/ I have come from the Sleep Time, the Dream Time…All that should govern us as Human Beings is our Honoring of the Creator, our honoring of all our Relatives….That is the whole meaning of our Existence: becoming one with the Great Mother and All Our Relations.”
The next time someone greets you with, “How are you?” or, “Donnegok?” I pray that you will be able to respond with, “Mejedebesquin!”
Posted in Faith, Justice, Reflections
Tagged aboriginal, faith, First Nation, God, indigenous peoples, justice, problems, spirituality, survival, Turtle Island
How do you greet people when you meet them? At King’s Landing Historical Settlement we said “Good day,” at the high school some kids say hi by pushing each other into lockers, hi, hey, bonjour, beunos dias… When I wanted to learn some Korean I learned how to say their greeting, “anyong haseyo”, and one year during Native Awareness week at school they taught us a bunch of nouns, but I asked how to say hello in Maliseet. An informal greeting like “hey” is “quay” but the main greeting is “Donnegok”, how are you?
At the end of this month, Halifax will be hosting the Truth And Reconciliation Commission hearings. I am not an indigenous person and I make no pretense to even the slightest degree of expertise on the topic of Canada’s indigenous peoples. But, I love to learn, and there is much to learn from our indigenous brothers and sisters, especially about our stewardship of creation, and how to live a truly spirit filled life.
I am going to use the two stories; 1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14) 15-21a, and Luke 7:36-8:3, and stories of three of my indigenous contacts to look at the answer to Donnegok… “Mejedebesquin”, I am one.
In Psalm 5:1-8 we read,
“4For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil will not sojourn with you.
5The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.”
All of those negative descriptions are what King Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel represent. Ahab was spoiled. At his secondary palace in Jezreel, there was a neighbour, Naboth, who owned a vineyard which had been in his family for generations. Ahab wanted to take this land away from the person who had it and turn it into a vegetable garden next door for his own convenience. He offered either replacement land or the equivalent in cash. The answer he received was, “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” Ahab wasn’t used to hearing no and he became depressed. He told his wife about it and she told him not to worry. She set up a plot which resulted in the death of Naboth thus allowing Ahab to have his garden. While Ahab was in the middle of this garden he had taken through villainy, God sent the message that he was not pleased.
There are several underlying question here. First of all was the land either of theirs to give? And even if it was theirs, how could you put an appropriate price on the land of one’s ancestors? In Turtle Island (the continent of North America) “fair deals” and cheating, lying, and trickery have long been used to deprive the indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands. Deals were made but not honoured, diseased blankets were “given” out in a very successful gamut to kill off large populations, reservations were formed and the people restricted from using the land in the traditional manner.
My friend Hugh Akagi is the chief of the Passamaquoddy people whose land straddles the Canada-US border and includes St. Andrew’s New Brunswick. This First Nation is recognized only on the US side of the border. As Hugh says, when he is on this side of the border he fades in and out because according to the government of Canada, he doesn’t exist. You may read his letter which was written to the United Nations in 2002 at http://www.sipayik.com/akagi’s_appeal_to_the_un.htm
Posted in church, Faith, Justice, Reflections
Tagged faith, First Nation, God, indigenous peoples, justice, love, problems, survival, Truth and Reconciliation, Turtle Island, UNDRIP
Have you ever settled to pray in the evening and had trouble keeping your focus? Most of the time I pray in my head, that is to say that I don’t actually use my voice. Somehow, even in my own bedroom at home, praying out loud makes me self-conscious. This isn’t an issue for me in worship or anytime I’m praying with others.
Worry about seeming silly if my kids or husband come along and hear me is only a part of my problem. It seems that when I voice my private prayers they hit me more deeply. I almost always end up crying at some point. Similarly potentially embarrassing, this is an emotionally exhausting experience. I suspect that the tears etc actually are some indication of the value or efficacy of the prayer.
In the end I don’t know if it matters whether we pray in silence or aloud, but if you find yourself wandering off to plans and worries about the next day try switching. Maybe the sound of your voice will keep you on track.
Getting ready to give thanks? Think back!
Take a moment now, before we get to Thanksgiving Day and think about your youth. Do you remember your high school and university years? Make a list of all the bad decisions you made, all the risks you took, all the times you barely missed disaster. Now that’s a lot to be thankful for!
One of my earliest memories of church was that reassuring rumble of a whole group of people reading or praying in unison. There was such a sense of safety in it, even before I could possibly understand the meaning. Later, as I learned to read, I had a chance to join in comfortable in the knowledge that if we came to a word I wasn’t sure about, no one would notice and I would be able to get it the next time.
I got thinking about this at church a couple of weeks ago as we were reading the prayer of confession together in church. It is almost like magic really. You have a whole room full of people all facing in the same direction (no visual cues) and reading out loud from a bulletin. There is no director, no one beating time, and yet the reading will proceed in almost perfect unison, include appropriate inflection, and sound at once like each person’s voice and one voice! How does that work? Even better is when we repeat the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostle’s Creed which can be done by many of us without having to consult the paper at all.
Before I started writing this I looked up choral reading on the internet., Almost all the entries I found were in reference to teaching children to read, especially those with learning difficulties, or helping people with speech problems. I remember watching a Danny DeVitto film called The Renaissance Man in which Danny ends up teaching “basic comprehension” to a group of people about to flunk out of military basic training. He ended up teaching Hamlet and one of the pivotal moments was when they were trying to help one of the guys to read, “and this above all, to thine own self be true.” which was one of the lines for his character. He just couldn’t get the rhythm of it, until they all began to repeat it as a chant. He doesn’t get it right away but as they continue he repeat it with them. No longer on the spot, he gets it! What a great moment!
One of the great things about reformed worship is the fact that the people in the pews have an active role to play. They may be repeating call and response calls to worship, unison prayers of confession, responsive Psalms, actively engaging the word themselves along with the rest of their church family. There are many responses shared by most of the Christian communities. Try standing in a room full of Christians and getting their attention…now try saying, “The Lord be with you!” I’ll bet you have their attention now as many will have automatically responded, “and also with you!”
I think the church is one of the few places in which choral reading has a real-world application. Sure, we repeat the Brownie promise together, those in USA recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in school, but to actually take a text you may never have seen and read it aloud with no rehearsal, this is different. Some people criticize the church liturgies, saying that people just repeat things without any thought and this may be true to some extent, but I applaud the church for the use of unison reading and hope that it never changes that comforting rumble I know so well!
A while back I went out for coffee with a good friend. During the course of the conversation we touched on many subjects. She was sharing with me that she had been going for Reike treatments (is that the correct term?) for a while and she said she had an amazing experience at her last session. She shared the following story with me, and asked as well that I share it with you;
My wish is to have peace and taking part in a Reiki experience has given me this sense of peace and serenity.
My last two experiences have been quite different from my earlier sessions. During these session I encountered my angel. Initially, I saw two glowing lights moving around each other as if they were playing joyfully with one another. I felt happiness and an immense sense of joy, an almost childlike sense that only the present moment mattered. From the lights, a presence developed as an outline. The outline gradually became more visible until I could see a hooded figure there with me. I could not see his/her face. During this time I could see part of a wing that was a vibrant white in color. The energy that was present was very strong and real.
I can’t remember much else regarding this encounter but the feeling that I wasn’t alone. It was as if I was at another level compared to the earthly one. The message that came from this was to enjoy life, have fun and laugh. And more importantly, that I am not alone because my angel that is a very strong one at that is with me at all times. This in turn gives me strength during my spiritual journey called life. Is it possible that this other level is the spiritual parallel place of holiness?
Angels, are they real? I’ll look into this in a future post with help/reference to Calvin’s Institutes.
Photo credit to Miemo Penttinen, miemo.net
Posted in Faith, Prayers, Reflections
Tagged angels, Christianity, faith, God, help, Holy Spirit, love, prayer, promise, reflection, reike, spirituality, stress, survival, time
I moved some photos from my camera to my computer the other day. As I did so, I made some adjustments. I erased some which were too out of focus. I used the auto-adjust button for some to correct exposure issues while I used the colour or exposure buttons for others. A couple of the pictures looked much better with a filter of one sort or another. There was a time, not so very long ago, when I would have had to actually take many versions of the picture with actual changes on flash or actual filters. I put four versions of the same picture in this post to illustrate the differences wich are possible.
What you see depends on the filters you use. As Christians we read the Old Testament with the lens of the New. We can work to understand the Old Testament within its historical perspective, but in the end our understanding is coloured by our knowledge of the life and ministry of Christ and the ultimate grace of God. When we read disturbing things like entire nations being wiped out at the direction of God we are simultaneously confused that such a thing would be possible from a God of love, and reassured by the knowledge that in the end salvation is made available to all of us who believe in the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic and Apostolic church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Posted in church, Faith, Reflections
Tagged Bible, Christianity, church, filters, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, New Testament, Old Testament, photos, salvation