"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Archive for April 2016

Behold, I make all things new

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Easter 4C, April 24, 2016, Revelation 21:1-6, Ps 148, John 13:31-35 (new commandment), SJE Edmonton

We’re continuing in our post-Easter exploration of the consequence of the Easter mystery.  Jesus died and risen, and what exactly does that mean?  In this pair of readings, Revelation and John’s Gospel, we learn more about the downstream meaning of Easter for our discipleship.

We’re following the lectionary right now – a common schedule of readings that is used by most traditional churches.  In case you didn’t notice, the cycle of Revelation is a little spotty.  In fact we’ve jumped from last week’s reading in the 7th chapter, all the way to the closing dialogue in the 21st chapter.  As one commentator mentioned (Pulpit Fiction), we have skipped over all the scary stuff in the middle.  This is one of the failings of the lectionary, that lots of the scary and troubling stuff has been skipped over.  As I mentioned last week, Revelation is a key book to understanding our discipleship in this world and the next, and is worth more mention that a few chapters a few times per year.

What is most interesting about this snip from Revelation is what it foretells, and how contrary that foretelling is to our sense of the way the world works.  As we all know too well, our lives begin in youth, progress through to maturity, and then such a short journey to death.  The physical cycle for we humans is birth, new creation…through to death and an ending.  God’s reality is different and so it is with some surprise that we discover what comes at the end of the God-narrative is not an ending, but another beginning.  The start of that narrative, in Genesis, speaks of the creation of all that is from the formless void.  Now at nearly the end of the narrative there is another creation event happening, as John tells us, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more.”  As the God-story in this Bible draws to a close we are left not with death and decay, but another re-creation and fulfillment of all that had gone before. (idea from Eugene Peterson’s book Reversed Thunder as mentioned by Darrell Johnson).  So, this day as is fitting is one that is fundamentally about new life, even in the passing and ending of all that has gone before.

This re-creation is also reflected in the Gospel reading where we hear of this “new” commandment, that the disciples love one another.  The love they display for each other, and for others, reflect Jesus’ love for them.  And why should they love each other?  Because, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples.”  As reflected in the hymn, “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  Almost as soon as I say that, I want to laugh nervously, because I know too-well that we Christians are often not marked by our love, but by our disputes and anger.  It leads me to ask a difficult question of myself, is the way I conduct my life and the way I love something that causes those around me to exclaim, “how this man loves…what is it that makes him different than those around him?”  Or, am I a paragon of hypocrisy that causes those around me, upon learning that I am a follower of Christ to say, “See, these Christians really aren’t that different from the rest of us.” More on this in a moment.  Let’s explore those two themes.

This small snip from John’s Gospel tells us some significant things about Christ’s ministry here on earth and about God’s plans for the creation.  If you read a bit further down past the end of this passage you’ll find the prediction of Peter’s three-fold denial of Christ.  We start this reading with the departure of Judas from the Upper Room.  So, this passage is bookended by betrayal on one end, and denial on the other.  I’m starting with this observation because this really has to inform how it is we read what Jesus says in the passage.  When He speaks of glorifying God, and of loving one another, this message comes in the midst of a context which is right at home in our world and also in our lives.  Betrayal bookending love bookending denial.  It is worth highlighting this again because we sometimes fall into the trap of putting Jesus into a different category than ourselves…sure he could turn the other cheek, but then he was the Son of God, how can I ever hope to do that?  Rather, Jesus lives in a context just like our own, full of the same trials and challenges that we face.

This is also an important context for the commandment to love one another.  Jesus does not issue this new commandment out of a happy existence without conflict, danger or stress but rather a place where he knew that the final act of the play had already started.  His parting word was not a worldly, ‘get others before they can get you’, but rather that the disciples love one another because that would be the mark of the followers of Christ.  Why is this the mark of the followers of Christ?  Because this is the relationship displayed between the Son and the Father, one where the Father is eternally well-pleased with His Son.  That relationship epitomizes love, and this is the reason why we, as Christ’s disciples, are to display that relationship between one another.

This is a ‘new’ commandment, not in the sense that Jesus was introducing something brand new that had never been seen before, but because this brought about the ultimately fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.  We say at the beginning of each Eucharist service in the Book of Common Prayer these words, a reminder that Jesus remade the Shema y’Israel, the “Hear O Israel” into its fulfilment with this commandment:  Our Lord Jesus Christ said, Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all the heart, with all the soul, with all thy mind and with all thy strength, this is the first and great commandment.  The second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.  It is a “new” commandment in the sense that the incomplete and impossible to fulfill Law of Moses has now been brought into a new reality, a reality where that Law, and all the words of the Prophets, are finally completed with the command to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.  As Jesus said he had come not to destroy the Law, but rather to fulfill it, so too the command to love one another brings ultimate fulfilment to the commandments of God.

This is, of course, far easier to do than to bring into practice.  Our default setting is not to love, but rather to hate…or if that word is too strong for you, perhaps our default setting is closer to disinterest.  Those we find difficult to love we simply ignore or avoid.  This is what leads to what I’ve sometimes called the ‘presumption of malicious intent’.  When someone does something that bothers us, we are often quick to presume that the act was intentional, and moreover was directed specifically at causing us harm.  So, when someone cuts you off on the Whitemud, the first thought is not…I guess he didn’t see me, but rather that he did that on purpose.  When your IT system goes down at work for several days, you assume that the IT specialists aren’t fixing it quickly because they’re lazy, or maybe just making a point at how often we take those who support our work for granted.

That presumption of malicious intent is an artifact of our post-modern world, where we have been trained to contextualize everything in terms of how it impacts us personally.  I heard philosopher Ravi Zacharias describe the modern era as one where people hear with their eyes and think with their feelings, and this presumption of malice is one of those artifacts.  Our assumption is that someone that really cared about us would know in advance how a particular action or inaction would impact us.  When they do it, the conclusion is that this is proof that they just don’t care.

This is a destructive aspect of our post-modern world, that draws people into a fundamentally narcissistic mode of operating where everything that happens can only be perceived in terms of how it impacts each of us personally.  In 1981, sociologist Daniel Yankelovich published these comments after studying a number of married couples and how they sought to achieve self-fulfillment.  This is a secular writer, and listen to what he concludes from his study after considering one couple named Abby and Mark:

“If you feel it is imperative to fill all your needs, and if these needs are contradictory or in conflict with those of others, or simply unfillable, then frustration inevitably follows. To Abby and to Mark as well self-fulfillment means having a career and marriage and children and sexual freedom and autonomy and being liberal and having money and choosing non-conformity and insisting social justice and enjoying city life and country living and simplicity and graciousness and reading and good friends and on and on. The individual is not truly fulfilled by becoming ever more autonomous. Indeed, to move too far in this direction is to risk psychosis, the ultimate form of autonomy. The injunction that to find one’s self, one must lose one’s self, contains the truth any seeker of self-fulfillment needs to grasp.”  (found in a Ravi Zacharias talk)

As I read this several times it kept striking me how much it sounds like an advertisement for many of the different products, services and places to live that we see around us all the time.  We are literally bombarded with this message every moment we are awake with our eyes open…yes you can have it all, and anyone who tells you differently is doing so just so they can get ahead of you in the line.  The message is one of scarcity, and the importance that we grasp everything around us that we can hold, so that we will get our fair share.  By contrast, Jesus depicts a world full of his disciples who are so full of His love, the Father’s love, that there is more than enough to go around.  The love of the Father bursts forth in Jesus in the same way that the wine and the bread bursts forth from the Upper Room as the body and blood.  In contrast to the world’s refrain of scarcity, Jesus offers us the liturgy of abundance (cf. Walter Bruggemann).

The place this hits us most obviously is in our relationships, and it is so common to leave behind relationships where we feel our needs are not being fulfilled.  If I’m not feeling completed in my marriage it must be because my partner is not giving me what it is I need.  If I’m not feeling completed in my friendships, it is because my friends don’t satisfy my needs…and we do the same thing with our jobs, our hobbies and so on.  You can hear the refrain of self-fulfilment driving all of this.  Now, what stands in strong opposition to all of this yearning for self-fulfilment is the cross of Christ.  Faced with such a selfless act carried out by God Incarnate, it is difficult to sustain our personal yearning for fulfilment by means other than the Lord.  Faced with such a selfless act carried out by God makes it difficult for us to continue to objectify those around us, and to make them disposable people that exist only to serve our fulfillment.

Mind you we still try so hard to convince ourselves how deserving we are.  As GK Chesterton wrote, meaninglessness does not come from being tired of pain; but from being tired of pleasure.  The path of this world is one that demands more fulfilment all the time, because the need we are trying to meet is one that is constantly hungering for more…for larger and larger things.  Christ instead says come to me, and I will feed you the real food and drink, after which you will hunger no more.

The first part of the Gospel sets out what is, in many ways, an even more challenging question to consider.  Jesus says, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in Him.  If God has been glorified in Him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify Him at once.”  That’s a lot of glory circulating around and through this relationship between the Father and the Son.  The Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him.  Because God has been glorified in the Son of Man, God will glorify the Son of Man in himself at once.  Glory comes to us out of the Greek doxa, which literally means to make glorious, to honour, to magnify, to make clear.  If you think of a common expression, “that movie glorifies violence” you’ll get the meaning…glorifying meaning to magnify and worship something.

So in that twisty sentence of glorifying going on between the Father and the Son, there is another question that arises for us.  What parts of our lives glorify God?  This is a much more useful question than the popular “What would Jesus do?” and also much more onerous to really consider.  In our call as disciples we are called to model Christ in all we do, meaning as Christ glorified the Father, so too should our actions point beyond us to glorify God.  Is what you are doing right now in your relationships, your work, your volunteering, your movie-watching, your book reading, are all these things glorifying God.  Now my last question about loving one another is one you can kind of wiggle out of in some circumstances, because you can convince yourself that not loving a particular person is really that person’s fault for being unlovable.  But now I’m suggesting that we need to assess those situations by an even more challenging metric, which is to ask how our presence in that situation is bringing glory to God.  If you’re not feeling like making a break for the door at this point it means God has either already won your heart, or you’re not really hearing me clearly.

To bring in another GK Chesteron quotation: Christianity has not been tired and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.  These calls are hard to consider, because I know too well how far I fall short of bringing glory to God in my daily life.

Now, I need to wrap this all up, which we’ll do by quickly looking into Revelation as at least part of the answer to the challenge of glorifying God with our lives.  John sees this image of a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more tears, no more death, nor more mourning, crying or pain.  Then the one seated on the throne says something…”Behold, I make all things new.”  What strikes me about this passage are the tenses of the actions that are going on.  While I acknowledge that God is acting from beyond our linear space and time, what John is describing are, for us, future events, things that are to come.  But this line is talking about something that is happening right now in our midst, a re-creation that engages each of us who professes belief in Christ and throughout the creation.  So God, in this chapter at the end of the story, is affirming something we have heard throughout both Old and New Testaments, that God is constantly at work within His very good creation, constantly making all things new.

What this means is that our equally constant failure to glorify God with all aspects of our lives is not the end for us, any more than the presence of sin is the final word, because God is constantly and consistently making all things new including turning around our best efforts so that they will achieve more than we can ask or imagine.  That includes the renewing of our hardened hearts.  Behold, I make all things new is what allows the people of God to live a life resistant to the pulls of the culture, and to survive situations that even extend into the truly horrific.

So, as we continue our worship, and as we go forth from this place today, let us go forth in the knowledge that God continues to make all things new, and to re-focus all aspects of our lives to the greater glory of God.  Amen.

 

——————————————————

Ordinary Saints (Malcolm Guite)

The ordinary saints, the ones we know,

Our too-familiar family and friends,

When shall we see them? Who can truly show

Whilst still rough-hewn, the God who shapes our ends?

Who will unveil the presence, glimpse the gold

That is and always was our common ground,

Stretch out a finger, feel, along the fold

To find the flaw, to touch and search that wound

From which the light we never noticed fell

Into our lives? Remember how we turned

To look at them, and they looked back? That full-

-eyed love unselved us, and we turned around,

Unready for the wrench and reach of grace.

But one day we will see them face to face.

I’ve based portions of the material on Revelation off of Darrell W. Johnson’s excellent book, Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey through the Book of Revelation, Regent College Publishing, 2004, and specifically Chapters 28 & 29, I Make All Things New.

Daniel Yankelovich, “New Rules in American Life: Searching for Self-Fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down,” Psychology Today (April, 1981)

Written by sameo416

April 23, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Creed, Chance and Ordinary Saints

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A pair of poems from English journalist Steve Turner, speaking about the spirit of this age…

Creed
We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything is getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in
horoscopes, UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man
just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher
although we think His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same–
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.

“Chance” a post-script

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.

And a new one from Malcolm Guite about the reality of the communion of the living saints:

Ordinary Saints

The ordinary saints, the ones we know,

Our too-familiar family and friends,

When shall we see them? Who can truly show

Whilst still rough-hewn, the God who shapes our ends?

Who will unveil the presence, glimpse the gold

That is and always was our common ground,

Stretch out a finger, feel, along the fold

To find the flaw, to touch and search that wound

From which the light we never noticed fell

Into our lives? Remember how we turned

To look at them, and they looked back? That full-

-eyed love unselved us, and we turned around,

Unready for the wrench and reach of grace.

But one day we will see them face to face.

Written by sameo416

April 23, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development), 2016 SCC 12

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This SCC case has radically redefined the status of Metis and metis in Canada by clearly (for the first time ever) stating that they fall under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act of 1867, that is, they are “Indians” within the meaning of the CA of 1867.  This engages some pretty fundamental questions of personal identity.

This blogger offers a good overview in text form of exactly what Daniels was about.

If you want a bit more in depth explanation, this Carleton law professor provides a good explanation as well as some discussion of the interplay between Daniels and another key case, Powley.  Powley involved the question of the ability of the Metis to hunt without requiring that they comply with the provincial law (ie, hunting licenses etc).  Powley established a three-part test to decide if someone was “Metis” (at paras 31-34):

31. First, the claimant must self-identify as a member of a Métis community. This self-identification should not be of recent vintage: While an individual’s self-identification need not be static or monolithic, claims that are made belatedly in order to benefit from a s. 35 right will not satisfy the self-identification requirement.

32. Second, the claimant must present evidence of an ancestral connection to a historic Métis community. This objective requirement ensures that beneficiaries of s. 35 rights have a real link to the historic community whose practices ground the right being claimed. We would not require a minimum “blood quantum”, but we would require some proof that the claimant’s ancestors belonged to the historic Métis community by birth, adoption, or other means. Like the trial judge, we would abstain from further defining this requirement in the absence of more extensive argument by the parties in a case where this issue is determinative. In this case, the Powleys’ Métis ancestry is not disputed.

33. Third, the claimant must demonstrate that he or she is accepted by the modern community whose continuity with the historic community provides the legal foundation for the right being claimed. Membership in a Métis political organization  may be  relevant to the question of community acceptance, but it is not sufficient in the absence of a contextual understanding of the membership requirements of the organization and its role in the Métis community.  The core of community acceptance is past and ongoing participation in a shared culture, in the customs and traditions that constitute a Métis community’s identity and distinguish it from other groups.  This is what the community membership criterion is all about.  Other indicia of community acceptance might include evidence of participation in community activities and testimony from other members about the claimant’s connection to the community and its culture.  The range of acceptable forms of evidence does not attenuate the need for an objective demonstration of a solid bond of past and present mutual identification and recognition of common belonging between the claimant and other members of the rights-bearing community.

34. It is important to remember that, no matter how a contemporary community defines membership, only those members with a demonstrable ancestral connection to the historic community can claim a s. 35 right.  Verifying membership is crucial, since individuals are only entitled to exercise Métis aboriginal rights by virtue of their ancestral connection to and current membership in a Métis community. [emphasis added]

This test was specifically about status under section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982.  That section defines Canada’s aboriginal peoples as the First Nations, Inuit and Metis.  More specifically:

The term “Métis” in s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 does not encompass all individuals with mixed Indian and European heritage; rather, it refers to distinctive peoples who, in addition to their mixed ancestry, developed their own customs, and recognizable group identity separate from their Indian or Inuit and European forebears. A Métis community is a group of Métis with a distinctive collective identity, living together in the same geographical area and sharing a common way of life. The purpose of s. 35 is to protect practices that were historically important features of these distinctive communities and that persist in the present day as integral elements of their Métis culture. [emphasis added]

The conclusion of the SCC in Powley was that the Metis who met the three-part test were part of Canada’s ‘aboriginal peoples’ and were therefore entitled to some special treatment with respect to things like harvesting animals.  The primary focus of the decision was to identify the reason behind section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982.  That year will be important when we start talking about Daniels.

In the years after Powley, all the provincial Metis associations adopted the Powley test as the entry test for membership.  When my daughter and I were registered with the MNA a few years back, I had to prove that my family was connected to a historic Metis community (in our case, the Red River Settlement).  That meant demonstrating a genealogical connection from me back to a family member who had received Metis script (a land grant intended to extinguish the Metis treaty rights as indigenous people, although the government forgot about that aspect for the next 150 or so years).

An interesting midpoint in the discussion was the case two years ago, Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), [2013] 1 SCR 623, 2013 SCC 14 (CanLII).  In that case the MMF sought a ruling that the Manitoba Act of 1870 had never been properly fulfilled by the federal government.  From the case summary:

Section 31 of the Manitoba Act is a solemn constitutional obligation to the Métis people of Manitoba, an Aboriginal people, and it engaged the honour of the Crown. Its immediate purpose was to give the Métis children a head start over the expected influx of settlers from the east. Its broader purpose was to reconcile the Métis’ Aboriginal interests in the Manitoba territory with the assertion of Crown sovereignty over the area that was to become the province of Manitoba. By contrast, s. 32 was a benefit made generally available to all settlers and did not engage the honour of the Crown.

Although the honour of the Crown obliged the government to act with diligence to fulfill s. 31, it acted with persistent inattention and failed to act diligently to achieve the purposes of the s. 31 grant. This was not a matter of occasional negligence, but of repeated mistakes and inaction that persisted for more than a decade, substantially defeating a purpose of s. 31. This was inconsistent with the behaviour demanded by the honour of the Crown: a government sincerely intent on fulfilling the duty that its honour demanded could and should have done better.

None of the government’s other failures — failing to prevent Métis from selling their land to speculators, issuing scrip in place of land, and failing to cluster family allotments — were in themselves inconsistent with the honour of the Crown. That said, the impact of these measures was exacerbated by the delay inconsistent with the honour of the Crown: it increased improvident sales to speculators; it meant that when the children received scrip, they obtained significantly less than the 240 acres provided to those who took part in the initial distribution, because the price of land had increased in the interim; and it made it more difficult for Métis to trade grants amongst themselves to achieve contiguous parcels. [emphasis added]

This decision was so startling that I swore out loud when I first read it.  Essentially, the SCC has declared that the Crown deliberately failed to implement the intention of s. 31 in providing a timely and preferential land grant to the Metis of Red River.  The entire purpose of s. 31 was to extinguish aboriginal title to the land to permit further settlement of the prairies.

Large portions of my Metis family, in the dark years after the 1870 rebellion, fled Red River and scattered west into the North West Territories (to become Saskatchewan and Alberta).  In the First Metis Census I can see the majority of the Anderson clan scattering west out of Red River.  That was mostly because of the loss of land, and because of the nasty situation in Red River at the hands of the Red River Expeditionary force.  The RREF is one of the reasons that Stephen Harper’s assertion that Canada has no colonial past is entirely laughable.

Now rolex forward to the present day, and the Daniels decision.  The main focus of this case was the status of the Metis under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act of 1867.  These Constitution Acts are key documents in Canadian law, as they set out the division of powers between the federal government and the provincial government.  From the case summary:

The jurisprudence also supports the conclusion that Métis are “Indians” under s. 91(24). It demonstrates that intermarriage and mixed‑ancestry do not preclude groups from inclusion under s. 91(24). The fact that a group is a distinct people with a unique identity and history whose members self‑identify as separate from Indians, is not a bar to inclusion within s. 91(24). Determining whether particular individuals or communities are non‑status Indians or Métis and therefore “Indians” under s. 91(24), is a fact‑driven question to be decided on a case‑by‑case basis in the future.

As to whether, for purposes of s. 91(24), Métis should be restricted to the three definitional criteria set out in Powley in accordance with the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, or whether the membership base should be broader, there is no principled reason for presumptively and arbitrarily excluding certain Métis from Parliament’s protective authority on the basis of the third criterion, a “community acceptance” test. The criteria in Powley were developed specifically for purposes of applying s. 35, which is about protecting historic community‑held rights. Section 91(24) serves a very different constitutional purpose. The constitutional changes, the apologies for historic wrongs, a growing appreciation that Aboriginal and non‑Aboriginal people are partners in Confederation, as well as the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, all indicate that reconciliation with all of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples is Parliament’s goal.

The historical, philosophical, and linguistic contexts establish that “Indians” in s. 91(24) includes all Aboriginal peoples, including non‑status Indians and Métis. The first declaration should accordingly be granted. [emphasis added]

So, this finding is quite apart from the previous discussion about s. 35 in Powley.  s. 91(24) establishes federal responsibility for Indians, placing them solely under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada:

91. . . . it is hereby declared that . . . the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated . . .

. . . 24. Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians.

So the question Daniels brought to the court was if the Metis (and non-status Indians) were contained within section 91(24).  Since the Manitoba Act was not implemented, the Metis have been a ping-pong ball bounced back and forth between the federal and provincial governments, each declaring that the other had responsibility for the Metis.  Only Alberta, in the establishment of the Metis settlements, has taken positive steps to provide a land base for the otherwise dispossessed Metis.

This is the first time that such a definitive statement has been made about the status of Metis and non-status Indians (those not registered under the Indian Act).  It does not mean that the Metis are now “status Indians” and have fallen under the sway of the Indian Act.  What it does mean is that the Metis are now unarguably under federal jurisdiction.  What that might mean into the future is entirely up in the air, and I expect there will be years of negotiation, argument and further court cases in order to sort out the practical implementation.  Given that the MMF case has resulted in little change some two years later, I’m not holding my breath.

What difference it does make, for those of us trying to understand what it means to be Metis, is that a question some 131 years unanswered has now been clearly resolved.  Riel’s vision has come one step closer to reality — a vision where the Metis are a unified people with a real standing within Canada.  An undoing of many decades of abuse and marginalization.  So, Maria Campbell’s “road allowance people” have now come into an identity that reaffirms what we have always known, that we stand as a people distinct.  This is perhaps the real starting point, as now we can work out the relationship with settler culture that should have been established in 1870.

As a footnote, one of the additional major shifts that Daniels has brought into being is a broader definition of who constitute the Metis.  Up until now we have Powley, which is fine if you are from one of those historic communities, but what if you’re not?  There are large groups of people on either coast that call themselves “Metis”, but are unable to pass a Powley test, at least a Powley test the way it is established right now.  These are also people of mixed ancestry, who have also developed a unique culture, but very distinct from that of the Red River Metis.  Up until now, even the established Metis rejected these other groups (see for example, Chris Andersen’s book, Metis, where he states that only the Red River Metis are able to call themselves by that title).

Daniels pushes that aside, at least for the purpose of section 91(24), and states that, “It demonstrates that intermarriage and mixed‑ancestry do not preclude groups from inclusion under s. 91(24).”  Because the ultimate goal of all of this is reconciliation between the government and all of Canada’s aboriginal peoples, the definition of those aboriginal peoples for the purpose of s. 91(24) is quite broad.

So the internal arguments about who is and who is not Metis, have been undone by the SCC decision.  Whether we Red River Metis like it or not, our family just got a bit larger.  I think that a good thing.

 

 

 

Written by sameo416

April 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…

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Easter 3C, April 10, 2016, Revelation 5:11-14, Ps 30, John 21:1-19 (miraculous fish), SJE Edmonton

We continue to walk out our discipleship in these Sundays after Easter, learning about what it was that caused the growth of our faith from that small group of followers.  Today we hear another snippet of John’s Revelation and the recounting of the miraculous catch of fish, this one from after the resurrection.  I want to start with the catch of fish, because there is an important teaching embedded there, before moving on to speak about the Lamb upon the Throne.

Just to situate us in the narrative sequence, a sequence unique to John’s Gospel, Jesus has appeared a couple of times to the disciples gathered in a locked room.  The next encounter is sometimes called the ‘annex’ of John’s Gospel, as we’ve already heard what sounded like a concluding statement, that Jesus did many other signs that were not recorded.  John recounts a post-resurrection fishing expedition.  The expedition ends with the famous three-fold undoing of Simon Peter’s three-fold denial: Simon, do you love me?  Jesus asks three times, but I’m not going to focus on that.

What I will focus on is this interesting encounter with the disciples and a miraculous catch of fish.  This is a mirror event of an earlier catch of fish, when Luke recounted the calling of Simon Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, with a miraculous catch of fish, the morning after an unsuccessful night fishing (Luke 5).  Jesus stands in a boat teaching, and afterwards tells them to put down their nets once again.  Simon Peter says, at your word, I will put down the nets again and they catch so many fish that the boat and a second boat begin to sink.  Simon Peter’s faith has been answered, and his response is to fall to his knees, confessing, depart from me for I am a sinful man.  Jesus responds, come with me and I will make you a fisher of men.  Simon Peter, James and John all walk away from their old life to follow Christ.

Now we are in the days after Jesus’ crucifixion, and you can imagine the disciple’s state of mind.  There have been a couple miraculous appearances for sure, but really just party tricks.  What comes next after those three years when they had a clear mission, following this man Jesus, who is still such a mystery to them all.  We have not yet had the opening of minds that was to occur, the remaining in the city and the coming of the Spirit.  You can certainly imagine that there is much confusion and sadness, some fear, lots of uncertainty.  And we have not yet seen the glorious ascension of Jesus.  The disciples are perhaps returning to something that is still familiar, the ebb and flow of the life of a commercial fishermen.  In their confusion, restarting the family business probably seems like a good step to bring back that certainty and stability that they feel bereft of in the absence of Jesus.  I certainly know that feeling – when everything around you seems to be turning to absolute crud, finding your way back to a comfortable routine of an earlier day can bring a sort of shallow, thin comfort.  If that is all you have to keep you going, if a return to a past pattern is the best option, it’s maybe understandable that the disciples have chosen this path.  This was not, however, God’s plan for this group.

At this end of Jesus’ earthly ministry we have an encounter similar to the earlier calling of the 12, with a miraculous catch of fish because of the intervention of the God of all.  What struck me about these two accounts are the similarities, and the point I think is made in the pattern that is reinforced by a similar encounter post-resurrection.  Notice that in both fishing stories, this one in John, and the earlier in Luke 5, the fishermen have spent an unsuccessful night fishing. That is, by their best efforts, they have managed to catch nothing except a dark night of exhaustion.

This is invariably the results of our best efforts.  Sure, sometimes we succeed wondrously, but too soon thereafter we find ourselves yearning for something more.  If we can’t find that something more where we are, we move on…moving marriage, moving jobs, moving cities, moving relationships, until we can find a new success that fills in that empty spot.  What we buy through our effort is some relief from that dark night, a distraction that permits us to forget that our best efforts will ultimately only fill in that need for a fleeting moment before our emptiness again overwhelms us.  So it was for the disciples on both of those dark nights…exhaustion and empty nets after the best they could offer.  If fishing would not be their salvation, what could they possibly turn to except the same call they had heard three years earlier, “Follow me”?

It is only by the intervention of Jesus, by the supernatural bursting forth into the midst of the natural, that the nets are filled.  Once he intervenes suddenly their efforts bear great fruit, two sinking boats of fish, or in this account 153 fish and a free breakfast at the hand of the Creator of all that was, is and will be.  You can understand why they did not dare to ask him ‘Who are you?’ for they all knew and must have wondered what could this mean.  Filled with joy in the moment for it all made sense with Jesus next to them serving breakfast.  The other thing that always strikes me about this scene is the practical nature of Christ’s ministry.  After a long night on shift, on duty, standing sentry on a cold and rainy night or perhaps sitting in a military alert facility somewhere, when you’re drained of all that you can offer and want nothing but a warm bed and glorious oblivion from your failures…what more could you ask for then a hot breakfast on a beach?

This is an important lesson about dependence, about how we keep ourselves aligned with Christ in this modern age of wonder.  The reason this encounter is so similar to the one at the start of their ministry is so that Christ can reinforce this point in their minds, for he knows all too well what is to come in the years ahead.  Even before our breakfast has settled we hear the dramatic foreboding of what is to come for Simon Peter, “…you used to fasten your own belt…someone else will fasten it now…to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.”  This is a second important point, that the filling of us with the food of Christ does not guarantee us smooth sailing for ever and ever Amen.  The reality is often the contrary.  If nothing else, having a vision of what the world will become gives us a particular view of the horrors that we hear on the news nightly.  Instead of just learning about another bombing in Belgium, or mass killings in Africa, we also see in each of those events the fundamental brokenness of creation and how far we have fallen from God’s plan.  A Christian, by virtue of our other-worldly perspective, bears those sorrows more acutely than a non-believer.  While we may not be called to have that belt of martyrdom placed around our waist, we nevertheless share in the burden of suffering in the world.  We are also aware of the multitude of our brothers and sisters around the world who are modern martyrs for the faith, more in recent history than all of what happened in the 1,900 years before.

It is only through Christ that we may find the food that fills us up so that we hunger no more, and only through Christ that we find the true abundance.  There are two more things to pull out of this teaching moment.  First, that the filling up that comes with Christ happens by faith regardless of what your actual personal situation happens to be at that moment.  You could be in the midst of a personal disaster or tragedy of epic proportions, and Christ continues to fill you.

Second, it is important to realize that the disciples only enter into the place where they can be filled up with the food of Christ…after the dark night of frustration and exhaustion.  I was chatting with a co-worker this week who runs the youth group in her parish, and she was complaining about the young adults in her group who have no understanding of the place of suffering, and indeed of the critical need for suffering as a force that shapes us.  She had been through a difficult family life and had come to realize how those challenges had built in her resilience and more importantly a real sense of her dependence on Christ.  By contrast, many of the youth from well-off families had never known need, and had never even considered that there might be a day of need.  When those individuals were struck with one of those crises that inevitably come upon each of us, they were left staggering because they had no idea of how to face that burden.

So, the disciples only come into that blessing of abundance, after they have walked through the dark night of effort that wins them nothing but blisters and exhaustion, and the nourishing breakfast that awaits them may just be the precursor to a martyr’s death.  But this story, even in the horrors it may contain, is blessing in the name of Christ!  That is a truly outrageous thing to say.  I was reading an atheist’s blog this week, and he was encouraging his fellow non-believers to sit in church on Sunday and challenge the clergy whenever they said something irrational and contrary to logic.  As I read about his anger and frustration it struck me that much of what I preach will fall into his definition of irrational muck.  That is one of the realities of our faith, as we’re told clearly in Scripture, that what we preach and live is foolishness to the wise (meaning those who think themselves wise).  It is only by embracing the foolishness of Christ that we can truly come into our real inheritance as children of the Most High.

Why is this view of our faith important?  It is too easy for us to succumb to despair when faced with the intense brokenness of this world, and of all those around us.  I was at a concert a few weeks back and heard the band Metric sing these lyrics, reflecting on if they had really made any impact on the suffering world:

“When I get to the bottom of it I sink
Seems like nothing I said, Ever meant anything, But a headline over my head
Thought I made a stand, Only made a scene
There’s no feast for the underfed, All the unknown, dying or dead
Keep showing up in my dreams, They stand at the end of my bed
Have I ever really helped anybody but myself?”  “Dreams so real”, Metric

These are powerful words, particularly if you think that the onus to fix all the underfed, unknown, dying or dead rests entirely on your shoulders.  It is right to ask the question, have I ever really helped anybody by myself?  But we also know the answer to that question, and that we have a path out of that state.  This is clearly stated by the poet, WH Auden in his poem, Horae Canonicae, in the section named ‘Vespers’.  All of the creation turns on one reality, as Auden writes about the meeting of two dissimilar and disliking people at the cross-roads:

…cannot resist meeting to remind the other … of that half of their secret which he would most like to forget forcing us both, for a fraction of a second, to remember our victim (but for him I could forget the blood, but for me he could forget the innocence) on whose immolation (call him Abel, Remus, whom you will, it is one Sin Offering) arcadias, utopias, our dear old bag of a democracy, are alike founded: For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.

For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.  While we can ask ourselves the question, “Have I ever really helped anyone but myself?” the answer to that question, and indeed to all of our yearning questions about why and when is that final line: For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.

That foolishness continues when we look at what is happening in John’s Revelation.  I had forgotten the depth of the power of John’s account of his vision and found several times as I was reading the text that I was reduced to tears by the power and beauty he recounts.  In fact, it is important for us to realize that rather than Revelation being some puzzle that needs to be unlocked to learn when it is exactly that the head of the European Union will become the anti-Christ, or if Obama is really ushering in the end times, Revelation is fundamentally a manual about how to be a disciple in a challenging world, and these two chapters, 4 and 5, are the keys to understanding everything else that John relates.

John is taken into the highest heaven in Revelation 4 and recounts for us as best he can with human language what it is he sees before him…look!  A door in heaven!  Look! A throne!  Look! One sitting on the throne! Surrounded by all sorts of heavenly creatures and elders who seem to have no other task than to sing, Holy, Holy, Holy and to constantly fall on their faces before that One sitting on the throne.  Suddenly, you know on a visceral level that everything is going to be alright, for whatever happens in the European Union, there is a someone sitting on that throne in heaven.

Now into chapter 5 and the words we heard today, for there is now one worthy to break the seven seals and to read the sacred scroll.  This is the Lion of Judah, the Root of David who has conquered…but not conquered like an army of people, but has conquered by being slain.  The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world does so not by causing harm to wrong-doers, but rather by taking on to himself all the harm that the world can do.  This is what John sees, not a massive lion full of force and fury, but rather a lamb with the appearance of being slain, but with seven horns (representing perfect authority) and seven eyes (representing perfect knowledge).  Around that Lamb an uncountable host all singing with one voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing…”

And this is the point that any atheists wanting to catch me in irrational and outrageous statements should jump up and call me a phony…

The song of praise continues, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!” At which the living creatures utter “Amen” and the elders once more fall on their faces.

Now, what we are to take from this image is unfortunately cut off of the reading snippet for today, because it is the prior verse that outlines exactly what the impact of this Lamb that was slain has on all of us:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:9-10, ESV).

By that slain Lamb, we have become a people ransomed, and moreover have had for us made a kingdom, and further in still, have been made priests of the Most High.  Amen, amen and amen.

We continue to walk out our discipleship in these Sundays after Easter, learning about what it was that caused the growth of our faith from that small group of followers.  Today we hear another snippet of John’s Revelation and the recounting of the miraculous catch of fish, this one from after the resurrection.  I want to start with the catch of fish, because there is an important teaching embedded there, before moving on to speak about the Lamb upon the Throne.

Just to situate us in the narrative sequence, a sequence unique to John’s Gospel, Jesus has appeared a couple of times to the disciples gathered in a locked room.  The next encounter is sometimes called the ‘annex’ of John’s Gospel, as we’ve already heard what sounded like a concluding statement, that Jesus did many other signs that were not recorded.  John recounts a post-resurrection fishing expedition.  The expedition ends with the famous three-fold undoing of Simon Peter’s three-fold denial: Simon, do you love me?  Jesus asks three times, but I’m not going to focus on that.

What I will focus on is this interesting encounter with the disciples and a miraculous catch of fish.  This is a mirror event of an earlier catch of fish, when Luke recounted the calling of Simon Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, with a miraculous catch of fish, the morning after an unsuccessful night fishing (Luke 5).  Jesus stands in a boat teaching, and afterwards tells them to put down their nets once again.  Simon Peter says, at your word, I will put down the nets again and they catch so many fish that the boat and a second boat begin to sink.  Simon Peter’s faith has been answered, and his response is to fall to his knees, confessing, depart from me for I am a sinful man.  Jesus responds, come with me and I will make you a fisher of men.  Simon Peter, James and John all walk away from their old life to follow Christ.

Now roll forward three years, and we are in the days after Jesus’ crucifixion.  You can imagine the disciple’s state of mind.  There have been a couple miraculous appearances for sure, but really just party tricks.  What comes next…after those three years when they had a clear mission, following this man Jesus, who is still such a mystery to them all.  We have not yet had the opening of minds that was to occur, the remaining in the city and the coming of the Spirit.  And we have not yet seen the glorious ascension of Jesus.  You can certainly imagine that there is much confusion and sadness, some fear, lots of uncertainty.  The disciples are perhaps returning to something that is still familiar, the ebb and flow of the life of a commercial fishermen…at least it was something they knew.  In their confusion, restarting the family business probably seems like a good step to bring back that certainty and stability that they feel bereft of in the absence of Jesus.  I certainly know that feeling – when everything around you seems to be turning to absolute crud, finding your way back to a comfortable routine of an earlier day can bring a sort of shallow, thin comfort.  If that is all you have to keep you going, if a return to a past pattern is the best option, it’s maybe understandable that the disciples have chosen this path.  This was not, however, God’s plan for this group.

At this end of Jesus’ earthly ministry we have an encounter similar to the earlier calling of the 12, with a miraculous catch of fish because of the intervention of the God of all.  What struck me about these two accounts are the similarities, and the point I think is made in the pattern that is reinforced by a similar encounter post-resurrection.  Notice that in both fishing stories, this one in John, and the earlier in Luke 5, the fishermen have spent an unsuccessful night fishing. That is, by their best efforts, they have managed to catch nothing except a dark night of exhaustion.

This is invariably the result of our best efforts.  Sure, sometimes we succeed wondrously, but too soon thereafter we find ourselves yearning for something more.  If we can’t find that something more where we are, we move on…moving marriage, moving jobs, moving cities, moving relationships, until we can find a new success that fills in that empty spot.  What we buy through our effort is some relief from that dark night, a distraction that permits us to forget that our best efforts will ultimately only fill in that need for a fleeting moment before our emptiness again overwhelms us.  So it was for the disciples on both of those dark nights…exhaustion and empty nets after the best they could offer.  If fishing would not be their salvation, what could they possibly turn to except the same call they had heard three years earlier, “Follow me”?

It is only by the intervention of Jesus, by the supernatural bursting forth into the midst of the natural, that the nets are filled.  Once he intervenes suddenly their efforts bear great fruit, two sinking boats of fish, or in this account 153 fish and a free breakfast at the hand of the Creator of all that was, is and will be.  You can understand why they did not dare to ask him ‘Who are you?’ for they all knew and must have wondered what could this mean.  Filled with joy in the moment for it all made sense with Jesus next to them serving breakfast.  The other thing that always strikes me about this scene is the practical nature of Christ’s ministry.  After a long night on shift, on duty, standing sentry on a cold and rainy night or perhaps sitting in a military alert facility somewhere, when you’re drained of all that you can offer and want nothing but a warm bed and glorious oblivion from your failures…what more could you ask for then a hot breakfast on a beach?

This is an important lesson about dependence, about how we keep ourselves aligned with Christ in this modern age of wonder.  The reason this encounter is so similar to the one at the start of their ministry is so that Christ can reinforce this point in their minds, for he knows all too well what is to come in the years ahead.  Even before our breakfast has settled we hear the dramatic foreboding of what is to come for Simon Peter, “…you used to fasten your own belt…someone else will fasten it now…to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.”  This is a second important point, that the filling of us with the food of Christ does not guarantee us smooth sailing for ever and ever Amen.  The reality is often the contrary.  If nothing else, having a vision of what the world will become gives us a particular view of the horrors that we hear on the news nightly.  Instead of just learning about another bombing in Belgium, or mass killings in Africa, we also see in each of those events the fundamental brokenness of creation and how far we have fallen from God’s plan.  A Christian, by virtue of our other-worldly perspective, bears those sorrows more acutely than a non-believer.  While we may not be called to have that belt of martyrdom placed around our waist, we nevertheless share in the burden of suffering in the world.  We are also aware of the multitude of our brothers and sisters around the world who are modern martyrs for the faith, more in recent history than all of what happened in the 1,900 years before. This is the cross of Christ.

It is only through Christ that we may find the food that fills us up so that we hunger no more, and only through Christ that we find the true abundance.  There are two more things to pull out of this teaching moment.  First, that the filling up that comes with Christ happens by faith regardless of what your actual personal situation happens to be at that moment.  You could be in the midst of a personal disaster or tragedy of epic proportions, and Christ continues to fill you.

Second, it is important to realize that the disciples only enter into the place where they can be filled up with the food of Christ…after the dark night of frustration and exhaustion.  I was chatting with a co-worker this week who runs the youth group in her parish, and she was complaining about the young adults in her group who have no understanding of the place of suffering, and indeed of the critical need for suffering as a force that shapes us.  She had been through a difficult family life and had come to realize how those challenges had built in her resilience and more importantly a real sense of her dependence on Christ.  By contrast, many of the youth from well-off families had never known need, and had never even considered that there might be a day of need.  When those individuals were struck with one of those crises that inevitably come upon each of us, they were left staggering because they had no idea of how to face that burden.

So, the disciples only come into that blessing of abundance, after they have walked through the dark night of effort that wins them nothing but blisters and exhaustion, and the nourishing breakfast that awaits them may just be the precursor to a martyr’s death.  But this story, even in the horrors it may contain, is blessing in the name of Christ!  That is a truly outrageous thing to say.  I was reading an atheist’s blog this week, and he was encouraging his fellow non-believers to sit in church on Sunday and challenge the clergy whenever they said something irrational and contrary to logic.  As I read about his anger and frustration it struck me that much of what I preach will fall into his definition of irrational muck.  That is one of the realities of our faith, as we’re told clearly in Scripture, that what we preach and live is foolishness to the wise (meaning those who think themselves wise).  It is only by embracing the foolishness of Christ that we can truly come into our real inheritance as children of the Most High.

Why is this view of our faith important?  It is too easy for us to succumb to despair when faced with the intense brokenness of this world, and of all those around us.  I was at a concert a few weeks back and heard the band Metric sing these lyrics, reflecting if they had really made any impact on the suffering world:

“When I get to the bottom of it I sink
Seems like nothing I said, Ever meant anything, But a headline over my head
Thought I made a stand, Only made a scene
There’s no feast for the underfed, All the unknown, dying or dead
Keep showing up in my dreams, They stand at the end of my bed
Have I ever really helped anybody but myself?”  “Dreams so real”, Metric

These are powerful words, particularly if you think that the onus to fix all the underfed, unknown, dying or dead rests entirely on your shoulders.  It is right to ask the question, have I ever really helped anybody by myself?  But we also know the answer to that question, and that we have a path out of that state through Christ.  This is clearly stated by the poet, WH Auden in his poem, Horae Canonicae, in the section named ‘Vespers’.  All of the creation turns on one reality, as Auden writes about the meeting of two dissimilar and adversarial people at the cross-roads:

“…[we] cannot resist meeting to remind the other … of that half of their secret which he would most like to forget forcing us both, for a fraction of a second, to remember our victim (but for him I could forget the blood, but for me he could forget the innocence) … For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.”

For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.  While we can ask ourselves the question, “Have I ever really helped anyone but myself?” the answer to that question, and indeed to all of our yearning questions about why and when is that final line: For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.  The very glue that holds the creation together is Christ.  We are called to be intercessors in the creation, but the obligation to repair all the brokenness does not rest on our shoulders.

That foolishness continues when we look at what is happening in John’s Revelation.  I had forgotten the depth of the power of John’s account of his vision and found several times as I was reading the text that I was reduced to tears by the power and beauty he recounts.  In fact, it is important for us to realize that rather than Revelation being some puzzle that needs to be unlocked to learn when it is exactly that the head of the European Union will become the anti-Christ, or if Obama is really ushering in the end times, Revelation is fundamentally a manual about how to be a disciple in a challenging world, and these two chapters, 4 and 5, are the keys to understanding everything else that John relates.

John is taken into the highest heaven in Revelation 4 and recounts for us as best he can with human language what it is he sees before him…look!  A door in heaven!  Look! A throne!  Look! One sitting on the throne! Surrounded by all sorts of heavenly creatures and elders who seem to have no other task than to sing, Holy, Holy, Holy and to constantly fall on their faces before that One sitting on the throne.  Suddenly, you know on a visceral level that everything is going to be alright, for whatever happens in the European Union, there is a someone sitting on that throne in heaven.

Now into chapter 5 and the words we heard today, for there is now one worthy to break the seven seals and to read the sacred scroll.  This is the Lion of Judah, the Root of David who has conquered…but not conquered like an army of people, but has conquered by being slain.  The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world does so not by causing harm to wrong-doers, but rather by taking on to himself all the harm that the world can do.  This is what John sees, not a massive lion full of force and fury, but rather a lamb with the appearance of being slain, but with seven horns (representing perfect authority) and seven eyes (representing perfect knowledge).  Around that Lamb an uncountable host all singing with one voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing…”

And this is the point that any atheists wanting to catch me in irrational and outrageous statements should jump up and demand I return my engineering license…

The song of praise continues, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!” At which the living creatures utter “Amen” and the elders once more fall on their faces.

Now, what we are to take from this image is unfortunately cut off of the reading snippet for today, because it is the prior verse that outlines exactly what the impact of this Lamb that was slain has on all of us:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:9-10, ESV).

By that slain Lamb, we have become a people ransomed, and moreover have had for us made a kingdom, and further in still, have been made priests of the Most High.  Amen, amen and amen.

——————–

I’ve based portions of the material on Revelation off of Darrell W. Johnson’s excellent book, Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey through the Book of Revelation, Regent College Publishing, 2004, and specifically Chapter 12, “Reigning with the Reigning Lamb”.  In particular the three-fold message of discipleship that comes from the Lamb upon the Throne (which didn’t literally make it in, but coloured my reading of everything).

Also thanks to Metric for an awesome show, and for bringing me to understand the song, “Dreams so Real” in a way I had never heard it before.

Thanks to my daughter for asking me to include WH Auden as it led me to Horae Canonicae, a wonderful poem.

The stuff about fishing is my personal musing.

Thanks be to God for continuing to bless me with these musings, and for holding the flood of images back enough that my mind can grasp a small fraction of what is streaming through my soul.  May I continue to be as irrational as God calls me to be.

 

 

Written by sameo416

April 9, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Children’s Talk: Easter 3 “and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb…”

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“…each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8)

We are reading through the last book in the Bible, name? Revelation, or the Revelation of John. It is a book that is mostly full of the visions that John had of heaven, God and Jesus. Because these are things that were really beyond a human ability to describe, John uses lots of strange images to attempt to explain the things that God is showing him.

We use a lot of symbols in our community to remind us of things about God. Does someone have an example of a symbol? What symbols can you see around you right now?

Well, today John is recounting a vision of heaven, and what he seals is a roll of paper with very special information written on it, and an angel asks a question of all creation: who is worthy to open the scroll? John begins to cry because no one is worthy. But, one of the people in heaven says to John, Don’t cry, there is someone who can open the scroll. What he says to John is this: beyond the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll. Do you have any idea who the person is describing? The Lion of the tribe of Judah is Jesus. And then John sees a vision of, not a lion, but a lamb that has been slain who takes the scroll. Then all of the angels and people standing around John fall to the floor in front of this lamb and worship.

This is a picture from a very old church in Rome of what John is describing, and you can see the lamb sitting upon a golden throne, and before the lamb is the scroll.

unknown-artist-agnus-dei-lamb-of-god-basilica-dei-santi-cosma-e-damiano-roma-italy-7th-century

Now you may have noticed another symbol happening behind me – in this smoke rising up. I have an incense burner behind me that is burning special incense, frankincense and rose. We don’t use incense in our church that often, but it is an important symbol and has been used in churches since before Jesus was born. When those people fall down before the lamb, there are 24 of them holding golden bowls, and the golden bowls are full of incense causing smoke. The smoke is the prayers of the saints rising before the throne of the Lamb.

This is the image I want to leave with you, because what John is describing is pretty important to us. Have you ever prayed? We pray here in church, and we are all asked to pray all the time as people who follow Jesus. Have you ever wondered what those prayers look like when they reach God? John tells us here that our prayers: my prayers and your prayers, when they reach God are like bowls full of incense being burned in front of God. It is important to remember that whenever you feel like nothing is going right, that each of you can bring that incense before our God just by praying. So let’s pray.

(I don’t normally post children’s talks because I do most of them extemporaneously…and you can never tell what direction they will go so scripts are often useless.  This one is a really good point for everyone to consider, as it really struck me today reading John’s Revelation.)

Image: Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) Unknown Artist 7th century Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano Roma (Province of Roma. Lazio Region) ITALY

Written by sameo416

April 9, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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