As we seek to bring healing, reconciliation and peace into God’s world, it is not our job to rush in with all the answers that we feel will best “solve” whatever the problem may prove to be.
By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt
As I engage in a 40-to-45-minute commute from my home in Waterloo to St. George’s, Guelph, where I am currently serving as interim priest-in-charge, there is ample opportunity to tune into the news and become fully aware of life on the precipice of conflict, where inhabitants throughout our global community are clinging on to the edge seeking safety and peace.
Feeling my blood pressure rise, I seek to escape and find a different radio station as I look for a venue which offers music from an era of life when the world was a different place. It was a time not without its struggles, but it felt like there was an opportunity where conversation and reason could lead to the resolution of serious matters and peace could be the framework around which life could be built.
As a young person, growing up in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, peace was not guaranteed. We were trained to drop to the floor and dive under our school desks for safety, if the time came when notice that a nuclear missile was hurtling in our direction gave us a moment to seek that most minimum of shelters. At a time when the Cuban Missile Crisis was a reality to be lived through, the palpable tension of each day was experienced by young and old alike.
Later on, the call to support efforts to care for this “fragile earth, our island home” (BAS pg. 201) found a focus on Earth Day. Millions of people around the world spoke out and showed up to express their concern for the well-being of our planet. Identifying April 22 as Earth Day has become a moment when, on an annual basis, voices are raised and pleas can be heard, as humanity cries out “something must be done…!”.
Earth Day 2016 celebrated a moment when a significant number of global citizens, engaged in a moment of recognizing our mutual responsibility to our fellow human beings, marked the day by the signing of the Paris Agreement. More than 50 years have passed by since Earth Day was initiated. Even now, Creation struggles to catch its breath.
Engaging in a reflection regarding the challenges of life which occupy our thoughts these days, may generate anxiety in the minds of some. There are those for whom a level of concern rises in direct relation to how much they connect up with the reports of wars and natural disasters which seem to permeate our daily news.
Throughout the years there has been a constant conversation about how we, as human beings, treat other human beings. In the distant past (and in the not-so-distant past), there have been those individuals who treated others as property. The sad reality is that, tempted as I am, to simply identify that as a practice relegated to the pages of history, stories of the exploitation of human beings by other human beings may be found on the front pages of today’s newspapers.
Even as a community of faith, trying to be faithful in a world which feels like it is spinning out of control, feeling concerned or even feeling fearful, is a natural human response.
Remember the immediate reaction of the disciples after the experience of the Crucifixion. Filled with fear and anxiety, they sought refuge with each other behind the perceived safety of locked doors. It was into that atmosphere of worry and concern that the Risen Christ appears, saying simply, “Peace be with you.” It is that transformative message that is at the heart of the Easter Season.
Once the disciples come to grips with the fact that Jesus has overcome the power of death, the fear and anxiety which was at the forefront of their emotions gives way to something new. Like them, we receive a Great Commission to walk out of the front doors of our homes and our church buildings and go into every part of our global village and share our faith. Energized by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is at the heart of the experience of Pentecost, we are called to make a difference in God’s World.
Does this seem like a tall order, far beyond our talents and capabilities?
The challenge may indeed appear to be daunting if we view the whole picture as a vast mosaic of brightly coloured tiles which is beginning to fade and crack. We may not be able to fix the whole picture, but we are able to mend the small section of the mosaic where we see ourselves. If we take time to experience some self care, then we are able to respond to the needs of those who lives touch ours.
As we seek to bring healing, reconciliation and peace into God’s world, it is not our job to rush in with all the answers that we feel will best “solve” whatever the problem may prove to be. Our ministry is best lived out, I believe, when, first of all, we engage in a conversation with the desire to learn what challenges others are facing. Then, after we learn what they feel they need to deal with their issue, we must use the gifts, talents and God given abilities that are ours to commit ourselves to make a positive difference in their lives.
As a part of the Interim Ministry Team, Archbishop Colin Johnson visited St. George’s, Guelph in his role as the Clergy Transition Consultant to the Parochial Committee. I commend his sermon at the 10:30am service from May 1 2022 to you, especially if you are part of a community of faith experiencing some kind of transition. You will find it on the St. George’s, Guelph Youtube channel.
At the conclusion of his reflection the Archbishop offered a thought which, I believe has an application, at a personal, local and global level. As he looked to the future ministry offered at St. George’s, he commented, ”This is God’s Church, it is in good hands.”
Let me draw the Circle wider:
You are a Child of God.
You are in good hands.
We are Children of God.
We are in good hands.
This is God’s World.
The World is in good hands.
May God’s peace be with you.
Thanks be to God!
Rev. Canon Christopher Pratt had retired from full time ministry, but has been called to serve as the Interim Priest at St. George’s, Guelph in the Diocese of Niagara where the Sunday services are streamed on the St. George’s Guelph Youtube Channel. You are invited to tune in.