Participants in Reconciliation: Shut up and Listen

residential school

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV)

Paul’s text in 2nd Corinthians is a classic.  It is a call to embody the message of reconciliation.  It is a call to be God’s representative here on earth.  The assumption in the text is that we be reconciled with God through the saving life of Christ.  This reconciliation gives us new eyes to see glimpses of the new earth amidst the old.  It’s like the famous line in the hymn Amazing Grace; “I was blind, but now I see.”  Reconciliation in Christ gives us a divine imagination.

Lets imagine for a second that this text collides with our context similar to that of an asteroid hitting the surface of the earth…

The Residential Schools of Canada, the places in the 1900’s which sought to “Kill the Indian” by way of assimilation into white Christendom society are a dark spot in the history of the Church.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is a group that has said this is important for us to work toward reconciliation of First Nations people and the country that has deeply violated them.  For us Canadians, in my opinion, it’s like God dropped this right on our doorstep.

And it’s time to shut up and listen.

Littered within the history of Christianity is racism.  Christianity it seems, facilitated racist government systems still being felt to this day.  The Residential Schools are a result of such a system.  It carries with it an enduring consequence.  This reality offers us a tension between the bad and the good of the Christian story.  It is easy for us to claim the glory of our Christian past and invite it to inform our future.  In stride however is the need to claim with humility the pain, anguish, and death by injustice as part of our Christian story.  To be agents of reconciliation is to recognize, repent, shut up and listen, and strive for right redemptive relationship with a people who have fallen victim to the ‘dirty’ of Christianity and government systems.  God is at work, as God always is and it is a matter of discernment to find the place wherein we are called to participate.  Participating means that where reconciliation is happening, that is where we be.

The TRC is a place to start.  Like the people from the TRC say, it will take generations.

I would imagine an asteroid hitting the earth would be a fairly messy reality, with a whole lot of clean up.  So too, as we see in this particular place and in this particular time, is reconciliation.

There are many stories to be found on youtube about the Residential school experience, but this one was done in partnership with Mennonite Church Canada so I offer it here.  If you have about 17 minutes, it is worthy or your attention.

Where are the places in your neighbourhood, or broader context that scream for reconciliation?  How can you participate?

Faithfulness and Fidelity

Faithful

Fidelity will not always be sex and fun.  Sometimes it might be simple faithfulness in daily ordinary routines, mutual allegiance against outside threats, or mutual perseverance through difficult situations.  One example of a man I knew whose wife was paralyzed from the neck down.  Too many men in midlife have abandoned their wives for younger women who can “give them the sex they need.”  But this man cared for his wife day in and day out, and I’m sure experienced increasing depth in their relationship in spite of her disability.  That is sexual fidelity.

Gareth Brandt, Under Construction: Re-framing Men’s Spirituality, page 117.

God’s faithfulness and fidelity does not come to us whimsically.  It has a price.  A steep price.  A price that only faithfulness in it’s truest sense will ever give us a glimpse of it’s beautiful persistence and commitment.  It is a faithfulness and commitment grounded in covenant relationship.

May our covenant relationships be given the true blessing of fidelity, a fidelity with a price, a fidelity that seeks to mimic the commitment God has to us in the saving life of Christ.  This is the blessing of the marriage covenant in which sexuality is grounded.  Yet, as in the marriage covenant fidelity is much more than faithful sexuality.

May we heed the example of the man who cared for his paralyzed wife ‘day in and day out’ and recognize that fidelity carries with it the price of unconditional love.

Where do you see the price of fidelity?  What does unconditional love look like in your particular place and time?   

Please stay tuned as I will be interviewing Gareth Brandt, author of “Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality” in the very near future.  But for more reading on this check out his website on the topic. His voice is very welcome and important to the conversation on male spirituality.  www.mensspirituality.com