Last night, our General Conference participated in an act of repentance toward healing relationships with Indigenous Peoples. I’m not entirely sure what I expected from the service of worship, but it was more somber and prophetic than I had imagined. There was less imagery and pageantry and more thoughtfulness and truth-telling. And the language used was much more radical than I had expected.
As people of this world, we have perpetuated crimes against our brothers and sisters. We have taken land, forced our perspectives, and destroyed cultures. We have not only committed sins of omission for not helping, but we have actively resisted the peace process and we have have gone into places as a violent force. We heard stories about the role of Methodists in slaughter in the Phillippines, in the Sand Creek Massacre, in the Trail of Tears, in Africa, in Norway, in places all across this globe where we have done damage in the name of Jesus Christ for our own personal and corporate benefit.
It was hard to hear. It was hard to relive. It was hard to dream that reconciliation is ever even possible, that damage could be reversed, that wounds could be healed.
And it was a powerful witness by our leadership that this was not a time OF reconciliation. This is merely the first step. We have to know what we have done and we have to feel pain about it. That pain leads us to repentance. That pain leads us to weep at what we have done.
In the service of worship, there were not celebrations or even folks there who we could apologize to. Rev. Tinker made it very clear that others are not at the table because we cannot just say we are sorry and move on. We are not at a point of reconciliation yet… but he is walking with us because he knows how difficult it is to repent and he is walking beside us in the process. That point was driven home again and again and it was important to hear.
Our call now is to be in repentance. To be continually repentant. To take a step forward every day. To work for harmony and balance in all that we do.
One step forward.
May we not take two steps back…