The fulfillment of the Sacred Circle

Photo: Thoom
By on February 2, 2022
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By the time you read this, the foundational documents of Sacred Circle will have been released and circulated. There are two: The Covenant, which corresponds to a constitution in the governance of Euro-Canadians, and Our Way of Life, which corresponds to a set of canons or bylaws in the governance of Euro-Canadians. They are the product of centuries of Indigenous philosophy and tradition, as well as a gathering process that has been building since 1988. It is our hope that we will be able to enact and fulfill The Covenant and Our Way of Life in the Holy Eucharist at a Sacred Circle gathering in May 2022. This will be the fruit of an Indigenous Christianity that grew quietly hidden in the Anglican Church of Canada over the past few centuries. It was quietly hidden, as it was forbidden and considered dangerous. It was persecuted, and despite this, it was the vehicle of the saving news of Jesus and the way of life that fulfilled that news.

You will find four foundational ideas in the documents. First and foremost is the commitment to putting the gospel in the Centre of our Sacred Circle gatherings, large and small. This is to be the way of our life as individual disciples, day by day, and as disciples in communion with one another. This is in concert with what elders tell us of old ways of being together. This all is made living and real by the promise of Jesus to be present where two or three are gathered together.

Second, the documents begin us in a way of being relatives as disciples of Jesus together. This making of relatives is a foundational principle and a primary characteristic of Indigenous law and life. We will endeavour, with God’s help, to be faithful to God and each other in following the teaching of Jesus. Our organization will proceed from our relations.

Third, though the Sacred Circle documents guide us in our life together as Indigenous Christians in the Anglican Church, they are not meant to command how local communities should live. They seek to enable, encourage and model a way for local communities to let the Word become flesh in their local context.

Fourth, we believe that this is the way for us to live out the essence of our Christian faith, as we have received it in Scripture and the Anglican tradition. We do not seek to escape or deny our Anglican faith; we seek to fulfill it in our own context. The persecution of Jesus, as he has been made incarnate in Indigenous life, must and will end. Those who suffered, those who died in that persecution will always have a voice in our midst. It is not a voice of hate, but it will insist on the freedom which was denied our elders and which is our gift in Christ. We cannot become what God desires by mimicking others. We must become what God intended Indigenous Christians to be. This is what the loving and strong presence of Jesus saved us for. We believe that this will be for the greater good of Indigenous life, for the greater good of all Anglicans, and, most important of all, for the glory of a saving and sovereign God. We pray that all people of goodwill will walk with us.

Author

  • Mark MacDonald was national Indigenous Anglican bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2007 to 2019, and national Indigenous Anglican archbishop from 2019 to 2022.