One Main St United worshiped with Melrose, Westdale and First-Pilgrim United Churches on January 5th at First-Pilgrim. Those of us who organized the service happily called it Epiphany Sunday, even if we were a day early (Epiphany is Jan 6, a fixed date, like Christmas).
There are a couple of things that I want to mention here about our Epiphany Sunday. The absolutely more important thing is that the service was oriented around the theme of right relations between first nations and settler nations. Rev. Lee Claus, a retired United Church minister of the Mohawk nation, presided over our planning (at the planners’ invitation, more on that later) and spoke both to the children and then to the adults during the service itself.
For me, it was a very long time coming that I would participate in such a service in a local congregational setting. This past summer I attended an event in Saskatoon put on by the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism called “Reconciling Churches: Reconciling Peoples.” Its theme speaker was National Anglican Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald. Bishop Mark, too, is first nations. He referenced a favorite authority of his, who said, “repentance is acknowledging that there is a lie in my heart.” He wanted his predominately white audience made up of representatives from many Christian denominations to acknowledge that the relationship with the first peoples of the lands in which we live is one in which we continue to lie to ourselves.
Rev.Claus spoke of bringing gifts to our service on Sunday, an image appropriate to Epiphany. Two that I heard him offer were the healing circles with non-indigenous people that have been initiated by first nations group on the Six Nations reserve called Nations Uniting, and the other was the gift of right relations itself between the colonizing peoples and the first peoples.
Well, I see that this post has run on. I’ll mention the other thing that stuck out for me at our Epiphany service in my next post. It will come soon, I promise.