The Canada Day holiday is looming large for me this year. For those of us participating in the 40-Day fast for Canada (www.40daystand.ca), the final day falls significantly on 1 July. Mentally, it was already the focus of my attention before the horrific discoveries of almost a thousand unmarked graves of first-nation children were found at former Residential Schools.
Normally, Canada Day is an endearing holiday and a pretty big deal in this country. We love that it falls in the prime of the summer, a perfect time for celebrating all things Canadian. We revel in a holiday featuring family, social activities, barbeques and fireworks. This year was setting up to be doubly festive, as it marked the end to Covid restrictions. But now, our numerous favorite stereotypes about how Canadians are unique (and happily superior to Americans) were shattered by the shameful secrets from our past. Apparently, we have a brutal back-history that, ironically, was never taught in school, though it happened there.
In a harrowing season of one tragic onslaught after another, the fresh discovery broke like a vicious storm. Century-old abuses and suppressed grievances regarding our treatment of native peoples of this land erupted to the surface with a deep and violent outrage. Catholic churches have been vandalized and even burned in retaliation. I happened to be listening to radio talk shows all week and the range of passionate emotion, frustration, grief, horror and helplessness was staggering. We’re just all over the place, devastated by the scandal while stupefied as to what actions could possibly bring justice and healing to innocent and culpable alike. Words from Isaiah the prophet come to mind, as he describes Israels' national crisis of faith, much like the one we currently face.
The whole head is sick,
And the whole heart faints.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
There is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
They have not been closed or bound up,
Or soothed with ointment. Isaiah 1:5-6
First nation oppression an open wound far beyond human wisdom or institutions to handle. What are we going to do? How do we make it right?
Canada Day is a day to celebrate the birth of our nation. This year, we face it with mixed emotions. What we really need at this point though, is rebirth. To be set free from the litany of gross wrongs and discriminations. Canada needs to be redeemed from herself, from disgrace, deceit and hubris. We need to be renewed in wisdom and energy. We need a new heart and a new spirit. If the Lord is prepared to regenerate an individual believer, why can’t He rebirth a nation?
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children. Isaiah 66:8
If a nation can be born in a day, why can’t it be reborn?
Despite religious abuses, Canada has never been more desperate for her Savior. She’s proven, time and time again, that the best intentions in government, democracy and human effort simply cannot create a civilization that doesn’t consume itself. O Canada! How you need God's dominion to come! Let’s not just let the Scriptures inscribed on the Peace Towers be mere sculpture and statuary, but the heartbeat of our nation. We’re supposed to be healing to the nations, so we’d better find the Balm in Gilead. Christ must be our true north, or we will never be strong and free.
As this July the first dawns, I’m asking for new grace over Canada - the healing of old wounds and insight into entrenched problems. Give us times of refreshing as we emerge from the long night of Covid, and new hope for the incredible challenges ahead. Help us to repent, of our failures. Grant us humility. Give us Heavenly solutions that answer every legal demand of both mercy and justice. Show us the way forward, Lord.
O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all of us command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
Most Canadians love our homeland. We’re passionate about it. We ache over the disgraceful decisions and deceptions of the last century. It’s not too late to confess our sins, turn from our wicked ways, and be healed. Lift up your voice, Canada. The Lord is still listening.
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