june 21st, 2020 – it’s time for a new day

Let us pray together:
Loving God,
     you have given us life
   with all its possibilities for growth.
You made us in your own image –
   responsible and creative,
     open to great visions,
  and capable of great imagination.
In Jesus Christ you have shown us,
     what we might be.
When you raised him to life
     you showed us that death is not the end
   for those who put their trust in you.
Thank you for this new life in Christ
     and for the hope of its future fullness.
This day
     we thank you especially for this community –
   we thank you for all that it means to us.
We especially remember with gratitude
     the ways that you have taught us
   and shaped us through this church.
We thank you for a community of faith in you
     and all that we see of you through these people.
O gracious and holy Father,
      give us wisdom to perceive you,
   diligence to seek you,
     patience to wait for you,
  eyes to behold you,
      a heart to meditate upon you,
    and a life to proclaim you,
  through the power of the Spirit
    of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Baptist Union of Great Britain


Oh the vapor of it all
     it’s a chasing of the wind
   the powers of the earth so pale and thin
We will set our hearts on you again

Holy, you oh God are holy
     trees clap their hands for you
   oceans they dance for you
You are holy

Oh the mystery of it all
     I can never peer within
   could never find the words or understand
The fullness of a God become a man

Holy, you oh God are holy
     trees clap their hands for you
   oceans they dance for you

You are holy
     infinite and holy
A billion suns rise for you
     clouds paint the skies for you
   mountains stand tall for you
     valleys bow down to you
Everything rising
     to sing all our song for you

Holy, the impossible and holy
     kings become fools for you
   kingdoms to ruins for you
     vapor finds ground in you
   music finds sound for you
Everything rising, everything rising

Come like dawn
     like waves
   like sunlight
Bring this world to life

Come like rain
     like breath
   like springtime
Bring us back to life
Lisa Gungor
Michael Gungor

Hey everyone, it’s good to be with through the technology of waves and wires.  I hope this weekend is allowing you some opportunity to relax and enjoy some down time.  Also, a happy Father’s Day to those of you who are dads.  If you didn’t see it, there was an email sent on Friday on behalf of the Elders and staff regarding our work to determine the best way to approach re-opening Emmanuel.  Along with that email was a link to survey.  If you have a minute and can fill it out, that would be really helpful.  We will continue to keep you updated in all of this.


Like last week, I want to take a quick moment to flag an eight-month spiritual formation course that will be offered this coming fall.  I realize that most of us are just looking forward to getting to summer and really have no idea what fall will look like for us, particularly in light of COVID.  So this is just to make you aware of the opportunity as ‘something that you may wish to access’ if it works for you.  Today you can hear Roger, talk about his experience in being a part of The Journey.  To access this, just click the link below the link for this liturgy.


As mentioned, June is National Indigenous History Month and today (June 21st) is National Indigenous Peoples Day.  It’s a day specifically set aside to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.  Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.  So on this day we recognize and honour the histories, cultures, languages, resiliency, achievements, and the contributions of all Indigenous Peoples in Canada. 
However, National Indigenous Peoples Day is not just a day for Indigenous Peoples – it’s for all of us living in Canada.  In an interview with Global News, Amy Seesequasis, who is the Director of Education for the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, points out that all people in Canada are treaty people and so it should be understood as a celebration of the diversity of treaty partners.  She went on to say that the numbered treaties are the foundational building blocks of Canada.  When we recognize our roles and responsibilities as treaty partners, we create safer and more inclusive communities.  This national day of recognition, and the events that highlight and showcase the cultures and contributions of Indigenous Peoples, is a way of enacting the roles and responsibilities associated with treaty identities.  One of the causes of racism is lack of information or misinformation, particularly when it comes to laws that subjugated and marginalized the Indigenous Peoples.  The hope is that through the events and gatherings of National Indigenous Peoples Day, more people are educated as they have opportunity to share in the beautiful languages and cultures of the Indigenous Peoples.


Because of Covid instead of physical gatherings today, there will be a virtual celebration that can be found on the Facebook page of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.  The live stream ran from 11 am – 2 pm.  A recording of the live stream will be available on the website of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner for those who were unable to catch it live. That website is www.otc.ca


Last week our liturgy focused around racism and privilege.  This week I want to continue to push into this topic but specifically focus our thinking around the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.  Just before we get into the liturgy I want to remind you that the second part of the Decolonize First guide and workbook is available to be downloaded. The guide is designed to help form a pathway for change by helping us work at ‘peeling back the layers of denial we’ve all be taught to normalize’ in order to bring healing and restoration.
In the liturgy there is a reference to Turtle Island.  If you are unfamiliar, Turtle Island is the name many of the Indigenous Peoples used, and continue to use, for the continent on which we live.  Turtle Island was renamed North America by the European settlers. 
Though varied in its telling among Indigenous Peoples, Turtle Island acts as a creation story that places emphasis on the turtle as a symbol of life and earth.


Today the liturgy will be formed by the writings of Rarihokwats, Dan Epp-Tiessen, and the sung and spoken word of Cheryl Bear.  The two written pieces are excerpts from a book entitled Unsettling the Word and the sung and spoken words are taken from parts of an Advent liturgy put together by Cheryl Bear.
So let’s begin…


By the shores of the Athabasca, there we sit down,
and there we weep when we remember the way it was
when Creator gave it to sustain our lives.
There we gave gratitude for our gifts,
the pure water we could drink from a cup,
the abundance of fish to sustain the lives of our children,
now only memories of who we were.


They ask us to be grateful for “progress,”
for “development,” for the “civilization” they have given us.
Now they ask us to dance in their parades,
to put on our feathers for their amusement,
while our children learn of Champlain, Cartier, Cabot
and are told, “Beat that drum and do your chants!”


We are on the same shores,
but it is no longer the same river.
How can we say, “Thank you, Creator?”
I will never forget you, Athabasca, as you were meant to be.
I will teach my children of the way you were
here in our Promised Land. We will restore you to health.
What good am I if I do not remember who you are?
If I do not remember who I am,
not what I have become,
if I do not make what you were
a vision for my children?
I remember all those who took my language,
who took my culture, who took me from my parents and people.
“Kill the Indian in the child!” “Kill the Indian!”
And now I am all that is left.


My mind wants retribution, repayment, restitution,
for what you have done to us.
I struggle with thoughts of hate.
Of violence. Even violence against my own self.


But what little remains of my culture tells me
those were not Creator’s instructions for me
when I was given life.
We must restore our lives, our values,
our Elder’s teachings.
We must embrace and
see what lives we might make for our children
who have a right to their own Promised Land
on the shores of our Athabasca
restored to health.
John 3:16 says Creator so loves us that he sent Jesus, that whoever believes in him would not die, but would live forever.  That is the most beautiful story I have ever heard.  That our Great Creator wanted to pull us close.  But this Gospel was never given as a gift to Indigenous People and allowed to grow indigenously within the soil of this land.  Rather it was used as a tool or a weapon of assimilation.  What would it be like to truly love one another the way that Creator loves?  To love each other for our differences and similarities, strengths and weaknesses.  What would it look like for the Gospel to change the way we love one another so that we can walk along side one another as allies, as family?  That is the true gift of the Gospel—that love brings change.

Cheryl Bear

Then I saw a renewed heaven and a renewed earth, for the old order of things has passed away. And the sea was no more – the sea that brought the colonizers’ ships, soldiers, guns, and diseases, and their slaves, and their dreams of wealth, plunder, and domination.  The sea which was used to strip Turtle Island of its riches – its furs, lumber, fish, agricultural goods, silver, and gold – will no longer be available as a highway of exploitation.


I saw the renewed Turtle Island lovingly fashioned by the Creator’s hands, and I heard a loud voice thundering from the sky, “See, the home of God is among humans, and among the plants, and the creatures, and ecosystems, all across Turtle Island and across the entire Globe. Creator will live with them as their God, their sustainer and healer, so that they will never again be harmed or go astray. Creator will wipe every tear from their eyes and every scar from the landscape. Death will be no more. Mourning and crying and pain will be no more. Economic exploitation and oppression will be no more. Colonialism and its painful legacy will be no more. Greed and ecological destruction will be no more. Militarism with its callous disregard for lives, resources, and ecosystems will be no more. Racism, sexism, exceptionalism, and all other isms that alienate and harm will be no more. For the old ways of doing things have passed away.”


And the Creator of all said, “See, I am making all things new. Bead these words into a Wampum belt, for my promise is trustworthy and true. I am the beginning and the end, from sunrise to sunset. I am the four directions. To all who are thirsty I give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who hold fast in difficult times and live in keeping with my promises will inherit my good future, and I will be their God and they will be my children and my relations. But those who resist my plans for healing and renewal and continue to exploit, wage war, pollute, and hoard, those who continue to pledge allegiance to the false gods of nationalism, militarism, and consumerism, they will all be abandoned to the consequences of their choices.”


Then one of Creator’s Spirits said to me, “Come, I will show you Creator’s dream for the renewed Turtle Island.” The Spirit carried me away to a high mountain. And as I looked out over Turtle Island, I saw that it was filled with the Creator’s glory and presence. All the plants, animals, and ecosystems were thriving. On the maples, cedars, birches, and spruce were signs naming and welcoming all the tribes, peoples, and nations of Turtle Island. And the bison again roamed the prairie, alongside the waving fields of wheat. And flocks of passenger pigeons again darkened the skies. And the waters again teemed with salmon, trout, walleye, and cod.


The Creator’s Spirit had a fishing line to measure Turtle Island. It was perfectly round, stretching equal distance in the four directions. Its dimensions were perfect, and its many ecosystems provided abundantly for all God’s creatures to live and thrive.
I saw no buildings of worship in Turtle Island, because the Creator and the Son-Daughter had come to live in the land, and they were always present to be respected and praised. There was no need for artificial lighting in the renewed creation, because Creator was its light, and the Son-Daughter reflected Creator’s rays into every dark space. The peoples and creatures of Turtle Island walked in the Creator’s light and rejoiced in the opportunity to offer gratitude and praise. There was no need for fences, walls, or boundaries to keep out danger, because Creator had purified the world of all wrongdoing and restored all those who stood in the way of Creator’s healing purposes. There was no need for fences and walls to keep our undesirables, because Creator intends Turtle Island to be home for all.


Then the Spirit showed me the river of the water of life, flowing from the sacred fire of the Creator and the Son-Daughter, through the centre of Turtle Island. On either side of the river grew the tree of life, transplanted from primordial time, providing abundant fruit in every season of the year. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations, and the creatures, and the plants, and all our relations. No more pain, or sorrow, or evil would be found in Turtle Island, because Creator and the Son-Daughter were present. All saw them and rejoiced. All gave gifts of praise and thanksgiving.


This is what Creator’s good future looks like. Blessed are those who live in keeping with this vision.
Dan Epp-Tiessen

Oh Creator we are grateful for friends and family far and near.  We travel, we visit, we reminisce long into the night while the babies sleep.  We remember and we laugh.  We remember and we weep.  We remember you, Creator, are with us, through it all.


What you just heard is a prayer song.  It has no word-for-word translation.  We call it a chant.  One of my Elders told me the chant represents the deepest cry of our heart.  Today we sing this song as a cry of hope.  We have dwelt on this mountain too long.  It’s a time for a new day.  Just as dawn breaks, Creator brings hope to our weary hearts. 
Welcome our Creator
Welcome our Creator
Welcome our Creator
Cheryl Bear
Our Father Creator,
     help us and protect us
   on this day.
We are your children:
     men and boys
   women and girls
     and all other people
   on this Earth.
You please us.
Thank you.
A Cree Prayer

To give you a bit of a sense of who they are, I’d like to introduce the four contributors who shaped the liturgy…


Cheryl Bear who is from Nadleh Whut’en First Nation.  She is well known as an important and respected voice on behalf of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.  She is a speaker and teacher, as well as a singer/songwriter who shares stories of Indigenous life through story and song. One of her current roles is Associate Professor at Regent College in Vancouver. 


Rarihokwats, who just recently passed away, was a member of the Bear Clan and a citizen of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne.   He was a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa in the area of Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous peoples. He also conducted treaty workshops and was involved in the background of most major constitutional and treaty agreements.


Dan Epp-Tiessen is the Associate Professor of Bible at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.
To help with better engaging today’s liturgy I want give you a broad definition of decolonization and indigenization.  In doing some of my reading, I came across a resource published by BCcampus Open Education and I found their definitions helpful.  This is how they frame decolonization and indigenization:
We work in systems that perpetuate colonial ideals and the privilege of Western ways of doing.  Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. On the one hand, decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics. On the other hand, decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being. For non-Indigenous people, decolonization is the process of examining your beliefs about Indigenous Peoples and cultures by learning about yourself in relationship to the communities where you live and the people with whom you interact.
Indigenization is a collaborative process of naturalizing Indigenous intent, interactions, and processes and making them evident to transform spaces, places, and hearts. It involves including Indigenous perspectives, approaches, values, and cultural understandings in policies and daily practices. Indigenization values sustainable and respectful relationships with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, Elders, and organizations. When it is practiced, Indigenous people are represented, respected, and valued.

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