Archbishop Mark MacDonald on the Pathway of Hope
Guest preacher for the National Indigenous Day of Prayer, June 21, 2020
I’m very happy to join with you on this National Indigenous Day of Prayer, and I want to highlight what I think is the highpoint of this day, and that is the reading of the gospel from the first chapter of John. It reveals the significance of this day, and the significance of indigenous life, and of life and goodness as revealed in this world through the gospel.
The first chapter of John describes the living Word in such a way that we could see it as a pathway of hope through history and through creation. And it is very important and very significant - very hopeful for indigenous people – to identify that that pathway of hope is not apart from human culture; it is not apart from human lives, individual and communal. It is something that the darkness has never been able to overcome. There is no place in all of the glories, wonders and horrors of human life that is untouched by the life of God, the pattern of God, the way of life which is God. And it says to us that we can live, understand, breathe within this life in such a way that we reflect it, and that it is reflected in us.
When the first missionaries came, unfortunately many of them described indigenous life here in N. America as being completely apart from the pathway of hope that they had experienced in Jesus. Many of them counseled that the best way for indigenous people to enter into hope was to get rid of everything – every aspect of who they were. The missionaries were not only unwilling to recognize the goodness that was in indigenous life - something that many people are seeing now in light of the environmental crisis that we’re in - they were unable to see the full ramifications that the life of Jesus exposed about all of creation, all human cultures, and every individual human being.
It is vital and important for us to understand the wonder and glory of this pathway of hope that is being revealed to us not only in the word of God as we read it, but also in the cultures that we experience, and the glories and difficulties of our individual lives. This pathway of hope is not only looking behind us, identifying the way in which God has carried us through history and creation, but it is asking us to look forward. God has a pattern and a plan that is being revealed to us in the justice and love that we experience in life, in the fullness of our humanity as we hope to live it. It describes the world to come as a living reality here among us. It tells us to look forward in hope that God is walking with us in life; that God is being revealed in justice and in love, both as we experience the broader ways of our communal life as human beings, and as part of the beauty and web of creation. And also in our individual lives as well.
The life, death, resurrection and second coming of Christ are being revealed to us in the difficulties and challenges and blessings of our individual lives. This is, as Paul said, very very near to us, in every way. We are asked by this day of prayer individually and together come to alive to the pathway of hope that God has put in our individual lives and in our corporate life in the structure of creation and the web of life. To come alive to that and to live it. To receive this Word that is spoken of here as something that is in the process of becoming flesh, as it says in this passage, meaning that it is becoming something that we can see and experience, something that we can touch and feel, something that touches and embraces us and our lives, and every aspect of our lives.
We are to live in that, to follow that, to manifest that, to trust in that: to see that the life to come is present in such a way that we can live it now, in hope and in grace and in the mercy of God.
Thank you for being part of this day. We pray that we may be blessed, and that you also will live in this pathway of hope, revealed in the indigenous life but also revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the way that both of them reveal themselves and give light to each other.
Thank you very much.