I was excited when I was told that the theme for this week was about relationships. My personal relationships have always been very important to me. They don’t just happen – there’s a commitment required to building, growing and sustaining a relationship. I started digging into the subject, and in particular, what it means to be in right relationship with one another.
Before reading further, stop for a minute and think of someone who you believe you are in right relationship with? It can be a spouse/partner, family, friend, colleague or complete stranger. What does that look or feel like for you? For me, it means being honest and vulnerable, present, respectful, considerate and supportive, trusting and fun loving.
Many of us were fortunate enough to have role models of healthy relationships at a young age, in our own family dynamics, Sunday school bible stories and school to name a few. As Rev. Liz Mackenzie, Minister at Dewy Sant Welsh United Church reflected this past Sunday, it takes courage, commitment and vulnerability to be in right relationship. On a personal level, I am blessed with many wonderful relationships. It is energizing to experience those grateful feelings that nurture our connections and touch our hearts. Having said that, relationships can be volatile. It’s painful to feel hurt, misunderstood, frustrated or even angry with a friend or relative. But, with courage and commitment, care and prayer, we can work together to make things right again.
We can extend the idea of right relationships from personal to congregational in the much broader relationship we have today with our Indigenous survivors. As Rev. Liz asks, “Do we have the courage to engage, at the congregational level, in deeply listening to the truth-telling of Indigenous survivors of the residential schools, learning all that we can about the broken relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, so that in humility and vulnerability we confess our complicity in the abuse of power that led to the horrors of the residential schools? Do we have the will to take up the Very Rev. McKay’s challenge to find out what those 94 Calls to Action have to do with us and then start implementing them in our congregations? Do we have the courage and the commitment to do the hard work of transformation so that in humility we can work for reconciliation and right relationship with Indigenous peoples?”
We are all very aware of the distinct history that shaped the lives of Canada’s Indigenous communities. It feels daunting to know where and how to start the process of transformation to right relationship. Perhaps accessing the ready resources, like the Truth & Reconciliation Report, to understand the pain of Indigenous peoples in Canada and what they need to bring them love and possibility, is a good place to start. Truth must be shared before healing can take place. They deserve to be treated as we would our friends and relatives – with honesty, love, respect, caring and trust.
In Rev Liz’s closing, she says, ‘…..It is through answering God’s call to be agents of reconciliation and transformation that we help to build up God’s reign on earth. This requires our courage, our vulnerability, our commitment – our entire selves. God’s good news is that we do not do this work alone. God is with us – In life, in death, and in life beyond death. Thanks be to God. Amen.’