On Wednesday June 3rd, 2020, I will celebrate 30 years of being an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada. It does seem strange that 30 years have past. My mind thinks that I am still in twenties or thirties. Oh sure my body gives away my true age. But 30 years does seem like a long time.
At my ordination some special things happened. Rev. barb janes (she did not like capital letters) preached a fantastic sermon on Pentecost and how the winds of change can blow through our lives. My mother, my minister, and the moderator laid hands on me. I was given a certificate by the Executive Secretary. I was also presented a bible, the picture of which you can see at the top of this blog. I remember humbly holding the bible and certificate in my hand, realizing that these were symbols of my vocation, to love and serve others in the name of God.
The bible teaches me many things. I am to love and serve everyone. That everyone is a big word. It is not confined to people who look just like me, think just like me, speak the same language that I do, love differently than I do, or even cheer for the wrong Canadian Football League team (I struggle with that last one- I mean there are the Roughriders and everyone else is just plain wrong). No where does the bible reassure me that I am especially blessed and thank God I am not like those other people don't quite reach up to my high standards. The bible tells me that we all fall short and yet all of us are loved, valued, and blessed in God's sight no matter who we are. The bible in my hand tells me not to be smug in my faith, but to encourage all to work for peace and wholeness.
At no time, did I see the bible in my hand as a weapon. On Monday, President Trump used the bible as a weapon. He called on the forces of the military to swoop down and end the protests that have ravaged the world since last week's murder of George Floyd. He called on the military to shoot the protesters (of whom only a tiny percentage have caused destruction and mayhem, the vast majority have protested peacefully).
For me, this was a gross manipulation of a sacred text. No where does it suggest that killing those who speak up is a good idea. What would have happened to the woman with a ill daughter at home who kept coming to Jesus for healing even after he rejected her and called her a dog? Yet she kept protesting until she found healing for her child. Using Trump's logic yesterday, this woman, as a protester, should be shot. She was disturbing the norm. She was upsetting the establishment. With his bible in hand, Trump would be calling for her death.
The bible in my hand 30 years ago taught me to love our neighbours, not shoot them. Looking through that same bible today, it's message has not changed. I hope my words and actions reflect those lessons that I learned. May my bible never be used as a weapon of hate.