The first theologians struggled with unity and diversity, inclusivity and individuality. There is only one God, and although the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all share the same substance (ousia) they are three independent persons (hypostases). The theological struggle we have understanding unity and diversity in the mystery of the Holy Trinity is however as nothing as compared to our human struggle to recognise the value of unity and diversity in our human race. We are all one people, we share the same DNA – the same substance – and yet we are all different: different races and colours, different languages and cultures; different histories and temperaments. Many of the worlds conflicts show how ill we live with our differences and how human beings have a history of trying to make everyone like themselves. ‘Love the alien’ we read in the book of Deuteronomy written some 2,500 – 3,000 years ago. We still have to learn to love the alien.
The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which comes to a close on May 31st, testifies to our sorry attempts to turn other people into ourselves. Indigenous people, nations with a vibrant and rich culture, language, art, way of life were taken away from their families and homes so that we could attempt to force their children to be like us. This is always the history of colonisation and it is the history of the churches in the residential schools of Canada. The truth of our abuse is hard, and the road to reconciliation is long. The sins of our forebears continue to wreak their havoc in people’s lives today – and our country and our church are impoverished by not having learned from the people who walked this land before we did.
We will mark the close of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in a number of ways at the Cathedral. Along with churches and cathedrals across the country, we will ring the cathedral bell on Sunday 31st May at noon. We will ring the bell 1122 times each Wednesday afternoon to remember the 1122 aboriginal women who have gone missing. See www.22days.ca
On Sunday 7th June at the 10am service we welcome Lee Greyfeather and Leslie West and other members of the First Nations to preach and take part in the Eucharist. After that Eucharist SJAG is offering a presentation on the TRC and the North.
And on Sunday 14th June between 5.30pm and 7pm we welcome elders and leaders from the Mohawk community, with drummers and dancers, along with Bishop Barry and other church leaders, in a celebration of friendship: for ‘this ending is only the beginning’.