This is a dialogue sermon with several voices. Because you may not be able to hear all the voices, I include the text of the sermon below.
|Artist: Cecil Youngfox Photo Credit:Antefixus 21 on Flickr.com
National Indigenous Day of Prayer
St. Luke’s, Burlington
Sunday, 17st June 2018
Philippians 4: 4-9
John 1: 1-18
Cat = Terry
Dog = Holly
Stuart = Stuart!
Terry and Holly go to the Lecterns (You’ll have to share the Mic.) Stuart goes to the Pulpit.
Stuart Today is a very special day. Not only is it Sunday, which is always a feast day in the Church. It is also Father's day and so we wish all of the Fathers here a happy day. But it is a special day for another reason. Can anyone tell me what that reason is?..... It is actually the National aboriginal day of prayer. More than 45 years ago, in 1971 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, responding to the Indian Ecumenical Council, declared June 21st a National Indian day of prayer. In the intervening years the civil authorities declared the same date to be National Aboriginal Day.
Why do we need such a special day? What is it for? One of the things that we can do on this day is to learn a little more about the Aboriginal people of this land, to celebrate their contribution to Canadian society and to our Church, and to think about how our relationship will proceed in the future.
What has our relationship been like in the past? And how is it now? When the good Christian missionaries of our Church arrived in Canada hundreds of years ago, they thought that the best thing they could do was to bring the people who were in this land to Christ. That is the message of the Good News: that Christ is for the salvation of everyone. But they also thought that in order to do that, the Native people would have to adopt the culture of the missionaries. Some good things happened as a result of those missionaries, but also, some pretty awful things happened over the 300 years of history, which the Aboriginal people have had with the Anglican Church.
Cat: Take that you big brute. Hiiiiiiiya! (thumping sound)
Stuart:What is going on!
Cat: And that. (smashing glass or similar)
Dog: Ouch! You meany, I'm going to get you back for that.
Stuart:What a racket! I don't know what's going on. Those two seem to be fighting! Oh, right, it's them! That's cat and dog. They always seem to fight like cats and dogs! Which makes sense, but they never seem to stop fighting long enough for me to ask them what they’re fighting about!
Dog: You hurt my tail!
Cat: You call that a tail!
Stuart:Now you stop it you two! Stop it, stop it, STOP IT!
Cat: Why? Dog started it.
Dog: No! Cat started it.
Stuart:Well, it doesn't really matter who started it, why are you fighting right now?
Cat: Well, we've always fought. Dog is just so different from the way we cats are. Dogs are just so clumsy and big. They're so untidy.
Dog: I'm not the one who's different. We dogs are a very cheerful type. It's cat that's different. All cats are just so stuck up.
Cat: Dogs don't even speak the way we do. They wag their tails when they are happy. Everyone knows that you're supposed to swish your tail around when you're angry! They should learn our language because cat language is better.
Dog: Dog language is all that I grew up with. Is learning cat language supposed to make me better?
Cat: Well, yes, of course!
Stuart:I guess they just don't like each other very much. Maybe it's impossible for them to get along.
Cat: It's not that we don't like dogs. It's just that we want them to be like us. You know, dogs have funny little rituals that are very different from our ways. Do you know that I have seen dog circle around six times on her mat before lying down to go to sleep. Now what kind of a weird religious ritual is that? Also, they seem to have this connection to the earth. Haven't you ever heard a dog howl at the moon? It's enough to make your blood run cold!
Dog: Those are important things that we do to remind ourselves that we are connected to God's creation.
Cat: Well I think you should worship God the way we do. I think dogs should learn how to purr!
Cat: Yes, and you should learn all of our purification rituals. We spend hours each day washing our paws and our faces and fluffing up our fur so that we are worthy to worship God.
Dog: Fluffy fur! But we like to apply earth to our fur so that we always realize how connected we are to creation, and how connected all things are to each other.
Cat: It sounds to me that we really are very different from each other, and maybe we should just organize a very big fight which everyone could watch and then, whoever wins that fight can rule over the others and…
Stuart:Now wait a minute! That's not going to solve anything. That's not the way to settle disputes. I think you're right that cats and dogs are very different, but that doesn't mean that one of you has all the truth and the other's ways are useless. It sounds to me that each of you has a lot to teach the other, if the other would listen.
Cat: But I want to teach Dog the right way! It is for her own good!
Dog: But you are missing so much of beauty in the world. It's as if you don't see it. I can't let that go!
Stuart:This sounds like some of the trouble between the Indigenous peoples and the settlers. Many of the people of the Settlers have a deep suspicion about the ways of the Indigenous people. Yet there is a connection to the earth, which many of the Indigenous people have, that could really help us to understand God's creation better. Think of the first lesson From Isaiah which recounts the greatness of God. God is the creator of all things, from all the stars of heaven, to the earth, our home, to each one of us with our myriad of gifts and differences. What a powerful God, who created all things, but still has the heart and compassion to give power to the faint and strengthen the powerless.
And God created all nations and has spoken to all cultures.
And you know there are many times when the people of the Settlers of this land don't even recognize that God is speaking to us. And some of those times, the Indigenous people are better in tune to recognize that God is here. Both Indigenous and Settlers have good things to teach and to share. That doesn't mean we have to change each other into who we are. That's not part of God's will for us. Tell me, Cat. Who made you a cat?
Cat: Well, God, the great creator did, of course!
Stuart:And Dog, who made you a dog?
Dog: The same, God the great creator did.
Stuart:Well, Cat, it seems that you not only want to teach Dog your ways, you also seem to want her to change into a cat!
Cat: Well, I always thought that Dog would be much happier as a cat! And I guess, I've always really been sort of afraid of Dog and her strange ways!
Stuart:Fear is a creature of the darkness. Fear happens when we don’t know each other and don’t appreciate each other’s ways. Fear happens in obscurity, but in the Gospel lesson, John speaks about Christ’s coming as a light shining in the darkness. John says that all things came into being through Christ, yet, when Christ appeared his own people did accept him. Yet for everyone who did accept him, they were adopted to be brothers and sisters of Christ, and children of God. This is the promise of God, and the great news of the Gospel to all people. All people were created by God, and God’s kingdom is open to all. When we recognize this, we can understand that the grace of God flows through many people and races and cultures. And we can celebrate the different ways that God’s grace and love can be made known in the other.
Cat: I guess fear of different things can be a stumbling block to finding God in new ways.
Stuart:That's right. Cat, you don't have to remake Dog in your own image. But both of you have much to teach each other and you can both learn more about God that way.
This is one of the reasons that St. Luke’s Church has an Indigenous Awareness Committee which has brought in speakers and hosted events with Indigenous leaders and hosted book studies.
We can still keep our own identity and our own culture and yet be together to share each other's wisdom. Cat and Dog, instead of just fighting each other because you’ve just always fought, why not try to learn from each other and respect each other. We are all God’s children.
Cat and Dog: O.k., it sounds like it might even be fun.
Everyone says good bye to each other