This is part 2 in a two part series. Find Guests on This Land Part 1 here.
This is a small story about what happens when we invite others to our table.
In the fall of 2017, in the year of Canada 150 celebrations, the CRC's Canadian Aboriginal Ministry Committee invited pastors and churches in Canada to consider together what it means that the land we call Canada has been inhabited for far more than 150 years.
They asked, “What do the biblical calls to hospitality and reconciled relationships mean for your church’s relationships with local Indigenous peoples?” and invited pastors to preach about this question.
Jacqui shared the first part of the story of The Road Church's response to that call on Monday.
Here's the rest of the story...
The second story is my own. And like the story before, a bit of background is needed. My mom passed away after a very brief illness last year. About 6 months before her diagnosis my mom had been walking in Fish Creek Park past an outdoor art installation celebrating the western and Indigenous influence on the area. On this day of dedication there was woman singing and drumming on the hill. My mom stopped walking, and listened for as long as she could.
During this time, God spoke to her about his love for her. My mom felt God encouraging her through this Indigenous woman's singing—a thrill of hope. I remember this day, as my mom called me, excited, brimming with the words of her Father to her heart. And into her illness and before her death, she held onto that moment in Fish Creek and mentioned it often. It was a touchstone.
Well, this particular Sunday of Cheryle’s visit also happened to be the day we decided on as my ordination Sunday. After the official call, questions, prayers and the laying on of hands of my ordination, Cheryle had asked if she could sing a song of women’s blessing. To me, she said, this song was a prayer for me to know The Creator’s place for me in this world. To say it was beautiful doesn’t quite do it justice. It was haunting, unfamiliar but also arresting and ministering. I have longed to teach, preach, pray, lead my whole life and for the last 20 years I have been trusting that these things in me would come into fruition, not knowing how, when, in what context. It has been a long, twisty journey and to then be blessed into this ministry in this unexpected way was a gift beyond words.
After this Sunday service, after the ordination, my father went up to Cheryle, described that event in Fish Creek with my mom and said, “This is a shot in the dark, but would that have happened to have been you?” And Cheryle looked at him and said, “No, but I know of that event. My daughter sang at that.” At that point, my dad began to cry, weep actually. I have never seen him cry like that in public. In an incredible circle of grace, a daughter was an instrument of blessing and encouragement to an unknown mother and 2 years later, her mother blessed and encouraged an unknown daughter. The women in that family were used, beyond comprehension, in the mystery of God’s all-seeing grace, to equip and encourage the women of my family for what lay ahead. My father kept coming to tears all day, even during family dinner later that night saying, “The Creator knew….God knew…”
And THIS is the point. The whole point. We don’t know what we invite in when we open up our table. What we do know is that we have been called by a welcoming God. We know that we have been called by a God who just loves to reconcile—it’s his favorite work. To reconcile his people to his heart, back to their own hearts and back to the hearts of one another. We do not have to be afraid to talk about the effects of past decisions. But we also get the privilege of wondering and listening together at what the healing looks like. This is the good work of being followers of Jesus—to wonder at what it is to witness God doing his work of reconciliation and to maybe even participate in it too.
We are witnesses to a grace that goes far beyond what we say we know. This is a grace that goes to the centre of who we were created to be and to the heart of who this God is. He is the Community of Love, the triune God who made us in His image. And this world, of all of us, is His. Not one inch is not his—The Creator knows and holds it in his hands.
We at The Road Church got to see this in sharp relief in that unique, unlikely Sunday service. We got to witness that when we welcome one another, when we welcome the Other, it is a foretaste of his dream, his world made new. One where we see and know and participate in the life of the Creator God and his goodness. And this is good news that I am still wonder-ing at.