Friday, October 24, 2014

Canada, Terrorism & the Kingdom of God

What follows are some incomplete thoughts on what happened in Montreal & Ottawa

Like many Canadians, I find myself in a place of sadness following the senseless violence in Ottawa on Wednesday.
I identify with the voices that lament the sense of loss of what we have seen as our peaceful context.
I get patriotism. I love Canada. I have lived in 3 provinces and visited all provinces except for Newfoundland & Labrador, Yukon and Nunavut. I proudly wear a Canadian flag pin when I travel out of the country. But patriotism is not the answer.
I get the need to respond to terrorism. The very nature of terrorism is that they operate by a different set of rules. But new laws, in and of themselves, will not make a difference.
I mourn that the life of another can be disregarded so easily. But the rhetoric of revenge is not the best way to re-establish a sense of calm and confidence.
I get human rights. We live in the tension of wanting to be safe, but not wanting what we have called rights restricted. But nothing governments can enact will ever make us totally safe.
I get voyeurism. We all like to see stuff we know we shouldn’t. We like to be in the know. We like to live vicariously through others. I’m glad for the difference between the USA media reporting and Canadian media reporting on the attacks. But better or more reporting does not change the reality of pain, suffering and death. It does not change the fact that in times of crisis there is much that is unknown.
I lament that humankind is divided by systems of defence and self-interest rather than a common commitment of seeking the good for all. But the solution is neither a one common government, nor increased protectionism.
I long to get a better grasp of the kingdom of God. I long to move beyond simplistic, nationalistic statements about the deaths of soldiers in Montreal last week and Ottawa this week. I long to grasp what it means to live like I actually believe Jesus when we said: “love your neighbour as yourself” [Matthew 22:39] and “love your enemy” [Matthew 5:33].
I pray that the light of God’s love would 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. I pray that we will not demonize all Muslims like we have done with the other people groups, including our own First Nations Peoples.
Living in step with the Spirit, living filled with the love of the Father, living in the Jesus way, is not easy in our culture. And it is not going to get any easier. I believe that more than ever, we need to immerse ourselves in understanding how the early church lived in a world of rejection and persecution. In the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”.
I came across this prayer, and will end with it:
A prayer in response to the events on Wednesday, 22 October 2014, 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.

No comments: