Healing, Truth, Trust

Although my study leave was for the month of October, it was important for me to be part of our Missions Peace and Justice Weekend October 27-28.  As part of our Sunday morning worship, I was asked to give witness to the weekend, and decided to post my notes here as well.

This shows how the pole will be carved with a bear and star at the top followed by a woman wearing a blanket that speaks of comfort.

Every Sunday is special in its own way, and this last Sunday was especially notable in focusing on “healing, truth, trust”:

  • These words were on the banner above the Residential School Healing Pole brought to us by Isadore Charters and Don Klaassen
  • and they were more than just words as we tried to live them out—as we heard from several guests, as we shared our own stories, wrote on a graffiti wall, carved together, ate together, played together, worshiped and prayed together.

There was so much that happened this weekend that can’t be shared in just a few moments, but here are a few highlights:

  • on Saturday evening, Isadore shared his story of being separated from his family at a young age and taken to a residential school and his journey of healing since then; how he and Don first met and how their relationship has grown. Thank you, Isadore and Don, for sharing your story together and for being such a wonderful example of mutual respect and friendship.
  • we were also glad to welcome Lynn Ned from Spirit Bear Center, to hear again about her work with aboriginal young women and the invitation for us to be involved. The need is great as present funding does not cover program costs, but if 100 people could give $20/month that would be a huge help. Also needed are people who can share their time and skills such as knitting or other crafts. For more information and to volunteer, contact lynn@spirtbearcenter.ca.  Thank you, Lynn, for your persistence in this work and for taking the time to share with us.
  • on Sunday morning, we had an intergenerational time in the gym followed by worship in the sanctuary. At both we were welcomed with drumming and song by Dawn and Carman McKay. As part of this, Carman said that he thinks of all of us as Sto:lo (“people of the river”) because we live in the same community by the river and contribute. “You are all Sto:lo,” he said. Thank you, Carman and Dawn for your presence with us, and for such gracious words of blessing. In return, I explained that the name of our church is Emmanuel, which means God with us—those are also words of blessing not only for the members of the church but also for all of us as a wider community: God is with us.
  • For the children’s story and main message of the morning, Don and Isadore re-enacted the story of the Good Samaritan with the help of a life-size puppet. The good news of Jesus is not only for our head and our hearts, but meant to be expressed by our hands and feet, by the way we live. That can happen in many different practical ways: by caring for those who have been abused (like the good Samaritan in the story), by sharing words of welcome and respect as we tried to do over the weekend, by sharing our stories, by acting in ways that promote healing, truth, and trust.
  • Thank you to Brander McDonald, indigenous relations coordinator for Mennonite Church BC for your strong support and presence. To help us move beyond this one weekend, Brander will lead a workshop Nov. 24 on First Nations worldview and the work of relationship bridge building. If you’re interested, please pre-register through the church office@emmanuelmennonite.com

At one point over the weekend, Don asked Isadore, “How do you feel when people carve with you? What’s that like?” Isadore answered, “When people carve on the pole with me, it feels like they are part of my healing journey.” As we spent time together over the weekend, and as people shared their stories during the intergenerational Sunday school time, it was very clear that we are all on a healing journey.  Isadore, thank you again for sharing your journey with us. May God continue to lead all of us in healing, truth, and trust.