What follows is roughly what I shared as some pastoral commentary this Sunday with my own congregation, The King’s Fellowship.
This has been an historic week for Canada wherein the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have been released. They, of course, address the residential school system that has been, and remains, a blight on our national heritage. Our own city, Winnipeg, is at the centre of these historic events. It is critical that Christians are aware of this cultural moment and respond with prayer for victims and for our country.
The report findings and recommendations have been made public. Justice Murray Sinclair, an altogether impressive man, has said: “we have led you to the mountain, we’ve shown you the path, now you must climb”* The report is a challenge that Canada must respond to. The specific recommendations can be discussed/debated and perhaps should be but that is to be done by those better qualified than myself. What I can say is that while all Canadians should be made aware of the T&RC, those of us of Christian faith should embrace a special duty. At this historical juncture – why shouldn’t we pray for the healing of our nation(s)?
The residential school system is the shame of our entire country. We shouldn’t step back from acknowledging the Christian role in this system. It was not just bad public policy. Churches participated and that was bad evangelization, bad theology, bad methods, with a bad outcome. We ought to pray for mercy.
And yet the Gospel message should both correct the bad that came before and be of present help now. The Gospel, the good news of Jesus, has truth and reconciliation at heart of its message. It has the truth of who God is and the truth of the human fallen condition. It offers reconciliation between humanity and our Creator. By implication it brings reconciliation between women and men to one another.
Now both sides of this issue in Canada need truth and reconciliation. Even if no one is Christian on either side, God’s common grace can extend. We can pray for truth to come forth and for reconciliation to happen between the First Nations and the rest of Canada. We can pray that as the people who have experienced the ultimate truth and ultimate reconciliation.
We can also bear in mind the end, the goal, of the Gospel. That is, the coming City of God. We await a renewed society of perfect peace and justice, where perfect truth and complete reconciliation exist between us and our Creator, and between all the redeemed. The Apostle John describes this City of God in the final scene of the entire Bible. He tells what lies at the City’s centre – the Tree of Life. And we’re told that …the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Rev 22:2) In light of that final hope, we can pray for the healing of the nation of Canada and for the 600+ First Nations in our country. Sin remains and so complete healing of the world will not happen until then. We can, however, pray for partial but profound healing in our lifetimes. If we care to read the findings and recommendations of the T&RC, we’ll know we need that healing.
* this is a paraphrase from memory of what I heard Justice Sinclair say on CBC radio. It may not be an exact quote.