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Join us for worship on Sundays at 10:00
- Please join us after the service in the Van Roon Community Hall for the HeBrews Café, refreshments and fellowship before continuing on with your day.
- Newcomers Welcome and Dessert Night – If you are new to CUC since 2019 we would love to welcome you for a time of fellowship, food, and information on Wednesday, October 11 from 7:00 – 8:00 PM in the Van Roon Community Hall.
- Mark your calendars for a Spaghetti Dinner and Dance Saturday, October 21 in the Van Roon Community Hall. Tickets are $17/person and are available beginning Sunday, October 1. Please join us for an evening of fun, food, and fellowship.
Welcome to worship for Sunday, October 1, 2023.
Earlier this year I was gifted with a book called “The Power of Story” by Cree author Harold R. Johnson. Johnson was an acclaimed writer and a sharer of wisdom. He died in 2022 shortly after this slim volume was finished. In it he writes:
We are all story. We are the stories we are told and we are the stories we tell ourselves. To change our circumstances, we need to change our story: edit it, modify it, or completely rewrite it. You have your life story. It’s the story you tell yourself about yourself. It’s as true as any other. If you tell yourself a story over and over again, no matter how improbable it may sound when you begin, in time the story will manifest itself.
As we come to this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation I want to say that I find two things very encouraging about Johnson’s thoughts. The first is that he acknowledges that transformation is possible, even desirable. Why else would he say that stories can serve to change our circumstances? One doesn’t change circumstances that do not need to be changed.
The second important and encouraging observation is obviously that recognizing story is a principal way of bringing transformation forward. If our stories are ineffective or destructive or simply benign, they can be changed. We have that power.
Residential Schools are part of the story of the United Church of Canada. Between 1925 and 1969 the United Church operated 15 institutions as part of the Indian Act system. While that reality is distant for most of us it is nonetheless part of our story, a story we are working to re-write. That began with the Apology to Indigenous Peoples in 1986 and continued with the Apology for our participation in Residential School offered in 1998. Most important was the response of the All Native Circle Conference in 1988 in which Elder Edith Memnook said, “We only ask of you to respect our Sacred Fire, the Creation, and to live in peaceful coexistence with us”.
Our work for reconciliation is ongoing and the story that the church tells about itself has changed immensely in the last generation. But all of that is just a small sliver of light in a deep and dark odyssey. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was primarily an exercise in story telling. It was a bold and broad effort to let Residential School Survivors tell their stories, to be heard, and to begin the process of changing their circumstances by rewriting their story. The work continues and as Commissioner Murray Sinclair has said often, it will take generations.
Christians are familiar with both things that Harold Johnson talks about. We believe in transformation. And we believe in the power of story to bring about change. We believe that the story of Jesus is one that offers hope to people who want a new story. We have heard that Christ’s mercy is greater that ours, his peace is deeper than ours, and his love is broader than ours.
It is so abundantly clear that the circumstances of many Indigenous people in this country desperately needs to change. That is something they will do for themselves. Theirs are the stories that can be edited, modified, and re-written. But as sisters and brothers from One Creator all of us must be prepared to listen, to honour, and to work where possible for renewal and reconciliation.
Let a new story be written.
Grace and peace,
- For news and events please have a look at Life & Work on our website: Life and Work
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- Michael Wilson’s book “A Pastoral Pandemic: Remaining Connected in a Time of Disconnection” is available in store and online through CommonWord Bookstore (Canadian Mennonite University). For more information visit: https://www.commonword.ca/go/3408.
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- The reading for this week’s service can be found at: Exodus 17:1-7