Have you seen COVID-season pictures of major world cities without fog? Beautiful. In Toronto, traffic was down 73%! You can almost hear creation groan in sad expectation of Canadians choosing to return to the old “normal”. What if we actually choose to remember what we are learning in this season? Learn to drive less, consume less, embrace family meals, and discover that we can actually thrive without sinfully full family schedules that currently cause our children anxiety or worse?
Then, in an already unsettling season, one more senseless death of a black man by a white police officer. George Floyd’s death ignited a cry for reform. Jesus led a counter-cultural reform, He called for a new Kingdom with a new Kingdom ethic. This would be a Kingdom where the citizens would morph in character and action to be like Jesus, Prince of Peace. His children would be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). This compound word, in the original language is made up of “shalom” and “maker”. Shalom is not just cessation of hate, ignorance and racism, but it is a state of love, belonging, and harmony. The second word is bursting with energy – it is an action word, and in this context, it is about making peace.
A peacemaking reformation is one where, Jesus’, love, healing, hope and forgiveness are freely extended to one another. Where strong stands are taken in prayer against rulers, powers and authorities in this evil world. Where strong stands for the oppressed, hurting, victims, and “other” are taken.
We can’t go back to the old normal. For instance, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada in 1946 over 70% of Canadians attended a Sunday morning service. In 2019 that number was 11%! The sad story is that the numbers have been in consistent and steady decline since 1946. If we extrapolate no one will be attending in 15 years. Church, if we simply and sadly go back to “normal” then all that we are doing is re-inserting ourselves into a decreasing graph. That would be insane. What should we learn? What is the church’s opportunity in a peacemaking-reformation?
We, the church, should lead the peacemaking-reformation.
- First the Church must be a people of peace: recognizing truth, repentance, shared narrative, shared mission.
- We will start a national conversation about what shalom can be between white, black, people of colour and the first people in Canada. I have listened to numerous stories of Free Methodists across the country in the past few weeks that have been shocking, sad and awakening. I mean story after story of racism, where young children have been hurt, young parents who wanted to protect were unable to shield their kids from evil, and most of these stories untold, or unheard. Story telling and story hearing will be an important piece. Contending for justice will be an important piece. Praying together will be an essential piece. I have already spoken to a potential team leader for this national conversation…
- Sunday mornings should no longer be the focus of our church experience, in fact I’d suggest that our focus on our music and style and dress has separated us so that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. Discipleship, worship, prayer, engaging with community have to be shifted ahead in our priority list, reflected in our budget and in the stewardship of our leaders.