Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 5, 2012 - Reflection by Rev.Carol Prochaska (ret)

Title: Living Up To Our Elevated Calling

           Scriptures: Ephesians 4:1-16John 6:24-35

Today in worship we observe
United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous People.

So there's food for our stomachs and then there's the other kind of food. There's the work we do for the food for our stomachs and then there's the other kind of work we do for that other kind of food. We heard Jesus say: "The work — the work — of God is to believe in the One whom God has sent." The bread — the other kind of food — is that which comes from heaven and gives life to the world.
So where do we go from here? What does this mean for us this morning? Our Ephesians passage has another way of getting at what Jesus said. So listen again to a couple of the verses we just heard. This I'm reading from a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible called "The Message." The Apostle Paul is writing to the early church and has just finished declaring that God can do anything and and that God is working within us Then Paul writes: "I want you (you the church) to get out there and walk — better yet — run — on the road God called you to travel." He goes on to say: "I don't want anyone strolling off down some path that goes nowhere. "
Do you hear the strong encouragement from Jesus to choose to do a certain kind of work and from Paul to choose to walk a certain path? To put it another way — and to use another metaphor — we are destined to fly high — to be as angels — to be the bearers of God's Love. Our calling, our path, our work is to cooperate with God in that which is life-giving.
The writer Louisa May Alcott once said: "Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not be able to reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow were they lead." I hear Jesus saying that those who trust me (believe in me) are to aim for the highest of godly aspirations and follow where they lead. I hear Paul saying if you're going to be the church don't settle for anything less than the best of the best of God's best
If we commit to this, it will (at times) make us different from others. If we accept our calling, if we live up to our calling to do God-Kinds of work then we won't have certain options as do others. When others stop having goodwill toward all people — we don't have that luxury. When others respond to unkindness with more unkindness — we don't have that luxury. When others refuse to acknowledge an injustice — we don't have that luxury. Challenging. Exciting. Scary. And worthwhile but not just for the present but into the future and maybe even forever.
We are rather like those early explorers we know from our Canadian history. They set out for the unknown and they arrived at awesome places — places we still think are awesome — places like our beloved British Columbia (when it was not yet British Columbia).
Explorer David Thompson is a name you will recognize. It was 200 years ago (201 to be exact) that David Thompson and his crew reached the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers where they had an historic meeting with the First Nations, the first known direct European-First Nations contact in our region. You know the name David Thompson but do know the name Charlotte Small?
Charlotte Small was the daughter of a Cree mother and an English fur-trader. Like so many Europeans who took wives from among the aboriginals, Charlotte's father, when he had made enough money at selling furs, returned to Europe leaving behind his "wife" and daughter to fend for themselves. Charlotte's response to this injustice was to give comfort and encouragement to another European, a Welshman who would become her husband: David Thompson.
Through Charlotte, David was enabled to connect other explorers and the people of eastern Canada to the native people of British Columbia thus leading to peaceful settlement and development of the region. They were instrumental in helping eastern Canadians understand far western Canada; smoothing the way for Canada to become a nation. Charlotte used her competencies in her native Cree language and English, and her good will toward both societies to stay on the path of goodwill. She stayed on that path when many others did not and thus did so much harm, harm we are still dealing with today.
Charlotte traveled with David everywhere he went. Her good will toward others was infectious and seemed to have no bounds. Without knowing it she was an ambassador of her native Cree nation to eastern Canada. An article in the Globe and Mail said of David and Charlotte: "They worked their way slowly, methodically in co-operation with native people and with the fur-trading company." After their exploring and mapping was completed they moved to Montreal. Charlotte was baptized in the Presbyterian Church as were all their children. The kind of work David and Charlotte did was not only life-giving back then but it is giving life. Would they be surprised we are still talking about them today? Probably! Do we wish others had been more like them? Absolutely. If this had been so would the First nation's Residential Schools been more just? I think so.
But thanks be to God that Jesus the Revealer is still revealing Jesus is still revealing to us our responses — our responsibilities — our work. And so we are left to choose: to choose God-like work, to choose and to stay on the path of goodwill for all people.
In closing, I go back to the words from our Call to Worship:

"Praise be to God who calls the people to new hope in every generation — who lifts our eyes to see a new heaven and a new earth..."

The UN's International Day of the World's Indigenous People is a United Nations day of observance but it is not a public holiday.
The International Day of the World's Indigenous People is celebrated on August 9 each year to recognize the first UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations meeting in Geneva in 1982. On December 23, 1994, the UN General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People should be observed on August 9 annually during theInternational Decade of the World's Indigenous People.
In 2004 the assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (2005-2014). The assembly also decided to continue observing the International Day of Indigenous People annually during the second decade. The decade's goal was to further strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.
In April 2000, the Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to establish the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. The forum's mandate is to discuss indigenous issues related to culture, economic and social development, education, the environment, health and human rights.
Artwork by Rebang Dewan, a Chackma boy from Bangladesh, was chosen as the visual identifier of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It has also been seen on material to promote the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. It features two ears of green leaves facing each other and cradling a globe resembling planet earth. Within the globe is a picture of a handshake (two different hands) in the middle and above the handshake is a landscape background. The handshake and the landscape background are encapsulated by blue at the top and bottom within the globe.
For this occasion, Rebang Dewan's artwork is often seen together with a pale blue version of the UN logo with the words "We the peoples" written in the middle. The logo is set on a darker blue background. The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material UN events. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents people in the world.
original inhabitants of region: a people who occupy a region at the time of its contact with colonial powers or the outside world.

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