Canadian Council of Churches

I am attending the Canadian Council of Churches biannual meeting outside Guelph at a Presbyterian Retreat Centre. Here gather 30-40 Christian denominations who serve in churches across Canada. You would likely know many of the churches represented here; Anglicans, Baptists, Roman Catholics, the United Church of Canada, Presbyterians, the Salvation Army, Pentecostals. There are also denominations new to Canada because new Canadians are coming to our country, founding churches here that maintain their denominations ties from their homeland.

People ask me what we do and why I am here. I was chosen by the United Church of Canada to be one of two representatives. I offered my name because I am finding the needs of our broken people require so many different understandings and experiences of God’s presence. My evangelical friends in Christ seem to speak and act in a way that touches and heals persons living in addiction. My mainline friends in Christ seem to speak and act in a way that touches and heals persons who have been victims of gender and sexual orientation discrimination. My liturgical friends in Christ seems to speak and act in a way that touches and heals persons who need to express their pain in an artistic way. I have come to know healing for a variety of people that has arisen in so many different Christian forms.

When I was first ordained I saw the theological world in a very static way, there were those who stood with the oppressed and those who stood with the oppressors. It was that simple. My theological training came from a liberation theology perspective, it was the mid-1980’s right up to the end of that decade. But along the way I saw how more conservative Christian voices were able to bring healing and liberation to the oppressed in a way that voices of liberation theology could not reach or touch. It was a revelation to me to see how liberation theology, which seemed to make so much sense to my Christian mind, could be so irrelevant to the very people it seeks to set free. How curious!

That lens of liberation remains with me, I always use inclusive language and I still believe God stands on the side of the oppressed and I think any expression of Christianity that does not include social justice seems disconnected to the teachings of Jesus. However, I also know that voices like mine seem to have limited impact on the lives of the oppressed. Broken people, whom God loves and I pray for, seem to be more open and connected to evangelical expressions of Christianity. The days of telling the oppressed that these expressions are false are over, doing this only removes the one source of liberation many call upon in despair.

So I come to these gatherings to listen to each Christian voice and to discern how God is using that voice to heal a broken world and in doing so creating rainbows of beauty that inspire our faith.

Today the representative of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church offered a point of view on how we can offer Cosmic Liturgy as a way to understanding order, beauty and the intent of the Creation. It was a blessing.