Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.
This has been a week of difficult feelings for so many across the country. Taking in the revelation of the 215 children’s bodies buried at the residential school in Kamloops confronts those of us who are settlers on this land in a deeply visceral way with the bitter legacies of colonialism. And it adds yet another layer of trauma to the lives of Indigenous peoples. The feelings of shock and shame so many of us have felt in recent days are not misplaced. Yet, the news of so many graves is not a surprise, of course. We have been told for years—generations, even—of Indigenous children taken to residential schools who never returned home again. The tragic evidence we now have before us begs so many questions: How? Why? And what does it mean to seek reconciliation in light of such horrors?
For many, the answer has been a renewed commitment to right these wrongs, to seek justice, to bring healing. And while swift and meaningful action in certainly called for, I think it is also important that we pause and sit with this heart-breaking news. I’ll admit I am finding it profoundly difficult to do so. I want to take action and heal what is broken. But I also recognize that genuinely facing the hard truth is a necessary part of reconciliation, for us as individuals and as a country. And so I invite us all the stay with the discomfort, if we can.
When you are ready to take your next step towards your own reconciliation work, you may find some of the ideas and resources outlined below helpful. As well, for several months, the leadership of the congregation has been preparing for Reconciliation and Racial Justice to be our over-arching theme at First Unitarian for the coming congregational year. You will be hearing more about this in the months to come. While we can’t undo the past, we can help to heal what is broken.
Finally, this coming Sunday we will celebrate our beloved Flower Communion ritual—virtually. Thank you to everyone who has generously shared images of flowers for this special occasion. If you wish, you may continue to mark this ritual in a tangible way by having flowers or plants with you as you attend the service. (I’m hoping to bring in a few roses or peonies from our garden.) Or feel free to simply enjoy the garden of beautiful images we’ll share on the screen. Either way, our hope is that this ceremony will once again deepen the connections that give life to our community.
In faith and love,