teach-peace-graffitiThis has already been an unproductive day. I have never been one prone to denial and wishful thinking,  I can’t stop thinking about the unveiling of ugliness that was the American Election.   I am not American.  I don’t live there and I don’t pretend to really understand exactly what led to what we have witnessed over the last 18 months.

I am Canadian.   I want to understand what to do today here in my community, my country and my church.

I want to find a path forward that makes sense.   Not to run away but to walk through…    I am hearing the voice of Eva Cassidy …   Wade in the water, Wade in the water, Wade in the water children, God’s gonna trouble the waters.

These are troubling times in North America and these are uncertain times.   Nothing seems to be working well any more.   Everywhere you turn, we seem to be running out of something – patience, trust, money, natural resources, faith, hope…… the list goes on.   It spins so fast that we don’t know what is true, not only because we don’t trust others, but also because in our confusion, fear and fatigue, it becomes harder and harder to trust in ourselves.   Nothing in my upbringing or education or career has prepared me for this.

Jesus promised us that if our hearts could be freed from trouble, if we could be at peace with each other and love each other, we could do greater works than he did.   He promised that when we were lost, an advocate, the Holy Spirit would guide us.

So these are beautiful words, but what do they mean, really?   I don’t necessarily know, but I what choice do I have in these troubled times but to struggle not just to understand them but top live by them – not to hide and run, but to be seen and walk.

So here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

We are called to no longer speak in extremist language on either side of a debate.   We are called to speak firmly with intelligent language softly enough to be heard.   Yelling just makes people go deaf.  It takes time, but in the end, you have less mess to clean up after the fact.

Ghandi liberated a country by walking.   Martin Luther King Jr. brought a people out of darkness by doing the same.    In our country, we must speak intelligently and persistently about the truths that we hold to be self evident and we must do this over a generation.

Would you like a “for example”?

It is a fact in our country that LGBTQ rights have never been greater.  It is true that our Prime Minister has made great strides.  But this did not occur in a vacuum.   An electorate (that’s you and me) needed to recognize this was necessary.   In the United Church, this conversation started at least 30 years ago in a formal way.   And I would be willing to bet that  one of the things that paved the way for that conversation was the bold statement from PE Trudeau that the government had no business in the bedrooms of the nation.   All told – it has taken us 60 some odd years to get to where we are today.  Could it have happened faster?  Yes.  Should it have happened faster?  Yes.   Good thing then, that enough people didn’t give up, because likely then it never would have happened.  There are other examples, for sure.

Do you see where I am going with this?In the middle of last night, I saw a Facebook post from a friend of mine.  I know her and her husband through their work on many levels – in politics, with children and families, in the church, with people at risk.

I wrote to her, “Are you okay?” “Yes,” she wrote back.  Except that she couldn’t sleep. I wrote back that I was in the same place.   She responded that her thoughts were turning to her work and the courage of the people she was journeying with;  Their courage to not run from truth of their lives – to fight the urges to fight for their lies as she put it – was what was sustaining her hope.   Powerful words, because they are rooted in the kind of struggle we all face as human beings to turn from hate or utter despair when we feel like there is no hope.

So… to my community of the United Church.  I reach out to you to invite each other to rise to a new level of discourse – because, it will make a difference – not tomorrow, but some day.In our church, let us lay down our suspicion of each other as we restructure.Let us be supportive and demonstrative enough to acknowledge our grief in changing times for the church to encourage each other to persevere.

In our church, let us put our personal theological positions on the line to embrace an inclusive church, even when it feels that no one really cares.   There are people who care, we just can’t hear them when they have no voice.   We need to continue giving them one.Let us be polite but firm and public in our disagreement with those who would pervert the beauty of Good News to spread hate and prejudice.

Let us learn from former moderator Marion Pardy about holy manners.And while I’m on a roll, let us stop our acrimony about our “atheist minister vs the general secretary” situation and have both sides come to peace so that no one is cast out.   I for one am really sorry on this day for the angry thoughts I have carried in my heart over this when I should have been praying for peace.On the economy of our country, let us be bold enough to have discussions and push for policy that moves us towards a sustainable understanding of work, wealth and happiness.   Let us stop pitting the economy and the ecology of our country against each other.   Instead let us inspire people to make sane choices today to prepare for tomorrow that put both people to work without promoting denial about putting the environment at serious risk.    (See my previous blog on this)To my community – the church – I believe we are called to lead on these social issues.   Not to make policy choices – but teach people to love and to listen, to trust and to work together.   To breathe, to be at peace and to work for the greater good.

I think this is what Jesus meant.I pray that we do this.   Somebody somewhere outside our church community, outside our country even, is waiting be inspired and pay it forward.