From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 19th Sunday after Pentecost

Hi everyone,

Today is Truth and Reconciliation Sunday. You might have gathered that if you participated in today’s worship service somehow, what with the orange shirt and all. But on this Truth and Reconciliation Sunday I’m reminded of how we spent our Truth and Reconciliation Day last year.

Some colleagues and I took a group of youth out to Kamloops to visit the site of the former residential school there, and to take part in the event they were having there with survivors sharing stories and to highlight a book that was written by one. I remember driving up the site, and having this sinking feeling in my heart as I saw the walls that kept kids in and the grounds on which some very atrocious things happened.

But I remember dreading that walk to where the crowd was seated and listening to the stories. I remember thinking that this was going to be brutal to hear these stories and feel the guilt for just having the nationality that I was born with. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to go, and that I’ll just sit in the bus because I didn’t want fingers pointed at me.

And if you remember me sharing about this last year, you’d remember that it wasn’t like that at all. I wasn’t shamed or made to feel guilty. There weren’t angry words or insults thrown back at the people. There wasn’t a call to violence and revolt and retribution to take back what is rightfully theirs.

Instead, we were met with welcome. With love. With grace. And it was in those eyes that I saw the living God.

Here are the readings for next week:
Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:7-15
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46

It’s not unusual for us to want to hurt those who have hurt us. It’s pretty typical for us to just want revenge. It is almost seen as normal to get angry when wronged, to lash out at those who have wronged us, and to use violence to right that wrong whenever possible.

That’s what the people thought from the parable that Jesus shared with them. They thought the landowner needed, should, and had every right to exact his own level of street justice on those that took what was rightfully his. And to be honest, I’ll bet many of us might have thought the same thing. That might be what we’d want to do, if we had the power to do so.

But God has a different way to handle these kinds of situations. It’s not an easier way, but I think we can all agree that it’s a better way. But it is a way much less travelled and used. It is a way that the world might see as weak. I’m talking about the way of community. The way of love. The way of grace.

That is how we’re treated by God and how we’re called to treat others. But I’m eternally thankful that God treats us this way first, because I know I, for one, have an extremely hard time in doing this. I need as much grace at the next person, because I am in as much sin as they are.

We all are, really. And so we all need that grace. Thankfully, we are given it eternally by a love that stretches out into the universe. So maybe we can reflect a bit of it onto our neighbours, loved ones, and even enemies.

Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by chris robert on Unsplash

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