A couple of weeks ago the Baptist tribe of Atlantic Canada met in Moncton for its annual gathering. I was skeptical about an item on the agenda that indicated a time for Indigenous peoples from Canada to welcome new Canadians (Syrian refugees). I was worried it would be contrived, or feel forced, as we try to squeeze together our newly-recovered sense of justice as Bible people, welcoming refugees and reconciling with indigenous communities post-TRC.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. As the Syrian families came on stage, theologian and indigenous leader Dr. Terry LeBlanc faced them and led a welcome with Dr. Danny Zacharias and Dr. Cheryl Bear. His words were beautiful, and conjured an image of a big land, stewarded for the Creator, with space for all who seek refuge and desire to live in peace with the land and others. He offered a gift in exchange for the gift of their presence in the land, and all were welcomed.
The picture here captured the powerful beauty of a moment that all will remember as a moving declaration of what it means to love in the name of Christ. It was a moment of hope. It was clear in that moment that the welcome was for us as settlers too, if we are willing to live by the same conditions.
In a world of cynicism about the future, and skepticism about faith, it was a wonderful reminder that good things happen at the grassroots in Canada. Good things are done by Christian people. Ambassadors of reconciliation are still about the mission of their Creator, and their Christ. It offers hope for all.
Image Credit: Troy Wilson Natural Canada Photo (@ CBAC Oasis 2017)