Where Is God in the Residential Schools Crisis?

By Carriere, Vianney | Anglican Journal, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Where Is God in the Residential Schools Crisis?


Carriere, Vianney, Anglican Journal


ARCHBISHOP Michael Peers, the Primate, is fond of looking at complex, sometimes seemingly hopeless situations, and then after delivering himself of a long, incisive analysis of the way things are, of pausing and wondering aloud "Where is God in all this?" It is always an apt question, yet it almost always comes as a surprise. Too often, in the midst of life's complexities, we forget to wonder where God is; we forget to look for God.

Where is God in the residential schools crisis that is shaking the Canadian church to its very foundations? The answer may not be readily apparent, but some plausible possibilities are interesting to think about. Is it possible, for instance, that God is in the trenches with His church? Is it possible that on those days when the situation seems unbearably sad and inexorably hopeless, that the touch on a shoulder that counsels survival for just one more day is the touch of God?

And where in the myriad responses to this crisis that have come from people across the country, lies the response of God? Readers of this newspaper and of Ministry Matters have at times, expressed extreme frustration at the longevity of this crisis. Enough, they have said, talk about something else. Is this the voice of God, counselling us to get on with His work? Others have sought a somewhat facile solace in the Gospels that speak of a church to last to the end of times, and in that context, they argue that the life or death of a church, the life or death of General Synod, matters little since the work of God shall continue. Is this, perhaps, the voice of God, telling us that faith in his word will see us through? Still others, perhaps the majority of Anglican church members, may wince in pain when the subject is brought up, but remain, for the most part, silent. Is this God? Silent? Uninterested?

Where is God in all this?

In a sermon preached in Toronto recently, Archbishop Peers quoted the British poet Christopher Fry in describing the residential schools crisis as an affair that is "soul size."

A more contemporary British writer, poet and playwright Robert Bolt once put the following words in the mouth of Thomas More: "If (God) suffers us to fall to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can and yes, then we may clamour like champions if we have the spittle for it.

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