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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Fifth Page for Sunday, June 28, 2009

It will be Canada Day this Wednesday, July 1. On Sunday morning with the kids, I talked about how it is possible to think of our national anthem as a prayer. I read the words to them, and placed emphasis on this phrase:

“God keep our land glorious and free!O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

I have some “theological tension” within me whenever we invoke God’s name, and call on God to take care of “us, and our country”. On the one hand, I am keen to promote the point of view that God is the source of all good things for life, and that it is part of our spiritual health to remember this, and to practice gratitude. But on the other hand, I think it is important that we avoid encouraging any sense of entitlement- that God has given us these blessings as a sign that we are especially deserving- that we are the favoured ones. (Or that we have earned these blessings, because of our hard work, our heritage, or our religious commitment.)

We are privileged to live in a wonderful country. I believe that with this privilege there must also come a deep sense of responsibility. So while the theme of the service yesterday,and the sermon, was awareness of God’s presence, and of God’s beneficence (God’s overhelming goodness and generosity), we also need to move beyond this awareness to our response.

How are we to respond? The best image that I can think of is of the garden my maternal grandparents kept during my growing up years. They lived in a very small house in Westfort, the part of Fort William (Thunder Bay South) that was closest to the paper mill. Their house was small, but they had this deep backyard that featured several crab apple trees, and a huge garden. This part of town was close to the Kaministiquia River, and the soil is very heavy and black, and good for growing. My grandparents took care of that garden, and grew potatoes, and carrots, and beets, and radishes, and lettuce, and onions. They grew raspberries, and they harvested the fruit from the apple trees. My grandmother canned fruit and vegetables to be used for the whole year, and the cold room in the basement was lined with shelves of jars. They grew more than they could use themselves, and our family, and others, received the bounty.
We are called, as people of faith, to care for the gifts we have been given, to make them fluorish, and to share with others, especially those in need.

As we celebrate “the true north, strong and free” this week, let us also contemplate how we can use our strength and freedom to make the world a better place.

Happy Canada Day!