"Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed." (Isaiah 10: 1-3).
There are many images speaking to my spirit and informing my prayers these days:
- The sacred wall of prayer in Jerusalem (the Western or Weeping Wall)
- The separation wall (between Israel and Occupied Territories)
- The image of children separated from their parents as they arrive at the Mexican/US border
I have always been sensitive to those who are not included and who are ostracised from the 'in' group by others; to walls that divide and policies or laws that are unjust. When religion is used to justify injustice or unequal citizenship or when prayers by some are experienced as right while others' are wrong I must ask what is my responsibility as a person of faith?
Changing the policies of another country is not something I can accomplish. And it seems too easy to critique what others are doing than to look to concrete action closer to home.
I have decided that I can commit to right relations with my neighbours where I live, right here and now. Going to the Mosque for an Iftar during Ramadan 2018 and co-hosting a Mobile Brunch with our Sikh neighbours on St Jean Baptiste this Sunday are actions of wall breaking, of knowing who our neighbours are. Walls of separation are sometimes simply about how little I know about someone of another faith practice.
There is another neighbour I need to meet and better understand: those of First Nations. I have often spoken of the founding peoples of Canada as First Nations, French and English. Some hearing that have reacted negatively.
The recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission within Canada has exposed the need of all of us to address an inherent ignorance of the realities of these nations colonised and excluded over so many centuries. As I hear the word "reconciliation" I accept that I have much to learn from my place of privilege: to live a journey in relationship with First Nations peoples who are in my neighbourhood, to accept that I know so little and need to humbly listen and hear stories and experiences very different from my own.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is June 21, the day of my writing this reflection. It is also the first day of summer. I hope that my recent visit to Israel and the news of the day can motivate me to pray for all peoples and governance, and that justice flows through all faiths, prayers and civic action.
Let faith and work be one as I seek right relationships right here and now, with all my neighbours!
- Rev. David
This prayer comes from the website of the United Church and is appropriate:
Great Comforter, we know that we are surrounded by a legacy of pain.
We acknowledge the pain, grief, and sorrow caused by not living respectfully with all people,
and we are sorry for the ways that we have dishonoured the depths of this pain.
Open us, Creator, to the power of interconnectedness:
Help us to receive the painful stories as well as the inspiring stories;
Grant us the courage to own any feelings of vulnerability, shame, fear, and guilt that may come from our interactions with each other;
And with your healing grace, lead us through our aching toward your dream of wholeness.
Transform us and our community so that we may continually work toward reconciliation and new life.
In Jesus name.
© 2016 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non- commercial Share Alike Licence. Any copy must include this notice.