I felt very privileged this past week to attend a panel discussion on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The speakers shared their ideas on how we can move forward for better relationships among aboriginals and non-aboriginals. One of the panel members, Bishop Mark MacDonald who is the National Anglican Indigenous Bishop, made a statement that I thought is very relevant to our gospel reading this morning. “The truth will set you free but first it will probably really ….” Let’s just say it’s not going to make you happy. But getting through the truth is necessary to start reconciliation. And likewise, without reconciliation, we have learned nothing from the truth.
When I think of 170 years of God’s faithfulness to St. James, I think of all of the faithful people who went before us and now have handed the baton on to each of us to take the wonderful story of St. James forward for the next 170 years.
Meyers goes on to say, “Mark has come clean; Jesus (a.k.a. the stronger one….) intends to overthrow the reign of the strong man, i.e, the scribal establishment represented by the demon earlier in Mark. This is Isaiah’s prophecies coming to fruition as God is making good on the promise to liberate the prey of the strong and rescue the captives of the tyrants (Isaiah 49:24). Those who live with power, comfort and empire might find such an interpretation offensive and shocking, yet Meyers points out that this image of Jesus breaking and entering is hardly a new one as Matthew describes Jesus coming as a thief in the night.
Experiences of God can be dramatic, can be more subtle, but they most often surprising, unexpected and sometimes not even asked for. Pentecost is about the power and grace of God being spread widely and almost indiscriminately. Jesus chose ordinary folks to be his first followers, people who by no means had it all together, disciples who sometimes seemed to have an incredible ability to not get the message and need Jesus to illustrate and re-illustrate what he meant. Pentecost is the beginning of these ordinary people becoming extraordinary Christians, indeed people that we hold up 2000 years later as some of the best examples of faithfulness and insight.
When I think of all the guides I have had in my life they have been, Sunday school teachers, colleagues, and mostly and an awful lot of talented fellow pilgrims along the way. As our faith matures, we are also called to become guides for others. Being a follower of Jesus means that we thrive on passing on the good news and living the good news. It’s about paying it forward to the next generation and those who have not had the same nurturing we’ve had.
The model most often followed in Canada today is patterned after the healing circles of the North American indigenous people & as well as the Maori of New Zealand. Their system served to protect individuals, ensure social stability and the integrity of the community. Much credit is given to the Mennonite Central Committee & to Howard Zehr in particular, for popularizing the theory & practices of restorative justice & pushing it forward. The Mennonites, as well as the Amish & Quakers are well-known for advocating & supporting restorative justice. They believe that a restorative approach is much more humane than the current punitive criminal justice systems. Howard Zehr’s book “Changing Lenses – A New Focus for Crime and Justice” is credited with presenting this “ground-breaking” theory of looking at & thinking about, a new way of viewing the criminal justice system. Well, it’s a new way to non-indigenous people at least.