Thursday, October 23, 2014

After a Sad Day in Ottawa

Like many Canadians I find myself in a place of sadness following the senseless violence in our capital city. I resonate with the voices that lament the sense of loss for our peaceful context. I share the anxiety of how this act of violence might result in our day to day affairs being weighted with new forms of fear through heightened security measures.

I feel sad. I feel a loss.

I mourn that the life of another can be disregarded so easily - and an innocent father is gunned down.

I mourn that the rhetoric of revenge is seen as the best way to re-establish a sense of calm and confidence.

I mourn that religion has become so tainted that the Loving Creator can be grossly misrepresented by acts of violence.

I mourn that our global family is divided by systems of defence and self interest rather than a common commitment of seeking the good for all. 

I pray for mercy. I pray for healing. I pray for peace. I pray that the good in all of us may triumph over the tendency for evil in each of us.

I don't want people to die having to defend me. I don't want people to die trying to get the public's attention. I don't want people to die seeing each other as enemies. Surely as a global family we can find new and better ways of working for the common good of the earth and all its inhabitants.

I will mourn for awhile. My prayers will feel heavy for awhile. My heart will ache for awhile.

May the light of God's love blind hatred and revenge and give us all a vision for the dawn of a new day filled with the power of a love for all our neighbours.

A prayer in response to the events on Wednesday, Oct. 22
Ottawa, Ontario

-adapted from a prayer by pastor Carmen Brubacher, Ottawa Mennonite Church

Our God,
We call you Light of the world, but today we feel the weight of night.
We call you Wisdom, but today we have so many unanswered questions.
We call you Prince of Peace, but today we feel surrounded by violence.
We call on you in our fear, our disbelief, our sadness, and our helplessness.
Hear our cries.

Hold us as we remember the sounds, images, and experiences of Wednesday.
Hold the families of all those killed and injured in our capital city.
Hold families around the world who experience violence and instability.

Remind us to hold each other as we gather in our homes, schools and workplaces in the coming days.
May we seek your wisdom as we try to respond to the questions of our children, which echo our own questions. Why do people kill each other?
We are people shaped by your story of peace. May our responses to the events in our capital city be formed and informed by this identity. 
May we seek your light as we find our way through the dark.
In your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Everywhere and Anywhere

I had the opportunity recently to meet with a group of our youth and young adults from across Canada to discuss their perspectives on the current and future state of the church. The conversation was rich and vibrant, filled with creativity and hope. It was encouraging.

Part of the task included the creation of what we called “Church on the Spot”. The participants were split into two groups and each given a half hour to create a corporate ‘acknowledgement of God’ moment. Not wanting to limit the imagination we purposefully chose to name our time together as something other than ‘worship.’

I went for a walk to give the groups creative space and freedom. We were meeting in a public space. In the meeting room across the hall began a loud celebration of a 25th anniversary party. The open bar and the dance floor only increased the volume of the festivities. The task suddenly seemed a little more complicated to me. I hoped the groups would be able to function despite the distractions.

I had little to worry about.

When I returned we settled together in our meeting room and prepared to share our experience of acknowledging God. With the loud buzz of activity across the hall, I wondered how meaningful this experience would be.

Equipped with a vibrant faith and an innate ability to absorb context the youth and young adults led us in a wonderful experience of worship. Scripture was read from a mobile phone. We sang together. We heard music from a tablet. We sat on the floor in a circle. We prayed. We marvelled at the way the Spirit of God touched us deeply. And all the while, the party continued in earnest across the hall.

I marvelled at the experience. It has filled me with hope and inspiration. The busy activity all around us did not hamper our experience of worship. The noisy celebration did not distract us from experiencing the presence of God.

I left that evening feeling encouraged. Our youth and young adults are well equipped for the future. Here is a generation who know that God is everywhere and can be authentically worshipped everywhere. The Spirit of God is alive and active in the hearts of our young leaders.

Praise be to God!