My family and I returned home from Winnipeg by train after a wonderful Sacred Circle gathering. The train ride was a reflective way to leave such an intense and significant event, held from Aug. 5 to 12. The Circle will certainly be a turning point, if not for our entire church, then clearly for the indigenous family of churches and ministries.
(You can read, hear and see more at www.anglican.ca/im/category/sc2012/ The primate’s last homily is especially recommended.)
As we rode through the beauty of this land, I pondered all that had happened. The greatest element, for me, was the clear commitment and enthusiasm to share the gospel and the life it brings.
There was the cross and the empty tomb: though we were constantly reminded of the great pain that so many of us face, we also experienced—with such hope and conviction that it can only be by the spirit of truth and grace—the courage and strength to pray, to act, and to live with our many challenges.
Riding through a number of remote locations—some First Nations, others not—I felt gratitude for my own family. We have been greatly blessed, and I prayed that God will give us the strength to be happy and faithful in the days and years to come.
I felt concern for the places we passed and the many like them across our land. I also thought of the many urban areas that are “remote” to conscious and committed gospel communities, especially those related to the Anglican Church of Canada.
We once had a clear and compelling commitment to make sure that every community and person in Canada was touched, in some way, by the gospel message and the pastoral care, worship and community that always attend it. Yet enthusiasm was not always matched with wisdom.
Sometimes evil took advantage when enthusiasm was too loosely tied to the justice and truth that are at the very heart of the good news. But to abandon our commitment to the mission of God now would only compound the injustice.
We must move forward with humility; we must do it with others outside our institutions; and we must commit to it always remembering that it is God’s mission, not ours.
The people who gathered at Sacred Circle were witnesses to the presence and power of a God who will not let us go. We have felt God’s presence in the darkest moments of our lives. Now, we are called to co-operate with a God who goes before us.
We are committed to building, in these many remote places, a gospel community of at least two or three people (Matthew 18:20), committed to helping individuals and families come to spiritual birth and rebirth. As we make these commitments, we know that God will gather many others to join us.
Mark MacDonald is national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.