Good People

Good People

By Pr. Rhoda Klein Miller

Last week I had the privilege to be an invited guest to an event hosted by Lu’ma New Beginnings Supportive Housing for Indigenous Peoples Day. The site is a block from Oakridge Adventist church and provides 60 temporary homes for those facing homelessness. The garden plots were teeming with native plants of ancestral importance: tobacco, sage, and even more arid-loving Saskatoon berry bushes. Some containers demonstrated 3-Sisters crop growing with an intermingling of corn, beans and squash. The grill was smoking in preparation for the salmon to be cooked. As we took our seats for the opening ceremony the elder who welcomed us thanked the neighbours for coming. “We want you to see we are good people” he said and my heart sank with all those words implied. I have not lived under the perpetual and erroneous judgement that I am a threat or problem because of my physical appearance or ethnicity. I cannot know the mental toll that takes but I can admire the strength and resilience and generous grace in spite of it.

OAC has a cherished tradition of hosting a Multicultural celebration at least once a year. Unity in Diversity is one of our core values but are we doing enough to foster a welcome and honouring community for those who have been hurt by racism, sexism and all forms of “othering”?

We know from the Bible Paul faced such challenges as he planted a Christian church in one of the most diverse cities of the first century. Despite being so close to the stories of Jesus’ inclusivity, the church in Corinth clung to social hierarchy norms. Some were receiving preferential treatment during the communion meal meant to illustrate oneness in Christ. Paul admonishes this group using a metaphor of the body with each part uniquely essential and important for the whole. “But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” 1 Cor. 12:24-26.

For Paul, equality required giving greater honor to those who had been neglected. Christian diversity requires giving more honor to those who have been deprived of it in order to bring about true unity. Diversity is a great, great blessing but diversity is not enough. Reconciliation and equality is also essential in order for us to experience true unity in Christ.