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Something’s Happening

At a recent Day of Encouragement focused on issues of Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation, held in Truro, NS, a pastor pulled us aside and said: “Something’s happening here. I’m not sure what it is, but God’s Spirit is at work.”

We couldn’t agree more.

There are times in each of our lives when we have a heightened sense that God is leading, that our Creator’s Spirit is moving in and around us. For some time now we’ve been saying to each other, and to those around us, that “something’s happening” with Indigenous justice and reconciliation in our churches. We can’t quite put our finger on it, but there are signs: chance meetings and unlikely connections that lead to timely and sustained relationships; the willingness of valued Indigenous colleagues to spend time with congregations and at important gatherings (eg. two Days of Encouragement this Fall); excitement and deep engagement with the reForming Relationships art tour in various host communities; the list continues.

One ‘holy moment’ in particular speaks to this reality. In June 2012, Bruce Adema (former Director of Canadian Ministries) offered an “Expression of Reconciliation” at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) National Event in Saskatoon (read the text, or watch it online). This expression of reconciliation drew together many threads: the long and rich testimony of CRC ministry with Indigenous People in Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton; growing RCA Regional Synod of Canada engagement in partnerships for Justice and Reconciliation; profound experiences with the Blanket Exercise (Thanks KAIROS!) across the country; the deep impact of participating in Truth and Reconciliation Commission events that many of our church members experienced; and the continual deepening of relationships with Indigenous leaders and communities that the Aboriginal Ministries Committee and the Centre for Public Dialogue experience in advocacy and education work.

On December 19, at the US Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington DC, our friend and colleague Mark Charles publicly read a U.S. House Appropriations bill that includes an “Apology to Native Peoples of the United States.” For those of us who were unable to attend, the recording is available via Mark’s YouTube channel. This apology and the public reading of it remind us of the importance of living out the good words of reconciliation and right relationships, and call us to action.

This theme of living out good words is a regular topic of conversation between us – that good words of reconciliation are meaningless unless they are lived consistently. In December's issue of Mobile Justice, Thea deGroot describes part of her long history of working alongside Indigenous peoples for justice, reconciliation and wholeness in relationships, and what she considers a necessary posture for translating good words of apology into action. We pray along with our American brothers and sisters that good words of apology, which read later that month, can be a catalyst for good actions for reconciliation between Native American and non-Native peoples.

There are many activities and dialogues regarding Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation in the CRC and RCA that we as national staff participate in or are aware of. We are convinced that there are far more that we do not know about: the faithful activities of citizens and congregations authentically living out God’s call to reconciliation in their lives and communities. From time to time we are blessed with a glimpse of these things, and are affirmed in the work to which God has called us – all of us, together, for seeking justice and reconciliation is truly a community effort.

We are reminded and encouraged that our Creator, who came many years ago as a humble child, still lives and moves in this world. We are reminded that the “Something’s happened!” spoken by the shepherds in Bethlehem is echoed by our own “Something’s happening” – as we bear witness together through time and space to God breaking into our world, making all things new.


[Photo: flickr user foto3116]

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