Point Grey churches worship together, preach reconciliation on Aboriginal Day

Rev. Mary Fontaine (right) spoke at the West Point Grey Ministerial's 'Worship in the Park' last Sunday. She also performed a Coast Salish song with Ruth Adams Tsawwassen) and Dorothy Visser (Cree).

Rev. Mary Fontaine (right) spoke at the West Point Grey Ministerial’s ‘Worship in the Park’ last Sunday. She also performed a Coast Salish song with Ruth Adams (Tsawwassen) and Dorothy Visser (Cree).

Nine west side churches joined for Worship in the Park at Trimble Park on Sunday (June 21), as part of the Point Grey Fiesta, which ran from Friday to Sunday. The fiesta also featured activities ranging from a pancake breakfast to a parade along 10th Avenue, with carnival rides set up in the park throughout.

The congregation in the park had a lovely view over the city, on a bright sunny morning. There were many highlights – not least a moving scriptural reflection by Rev. Mary Fontaine, a Cree from Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan who is a Presbyterian minister and runs Hummingbird Ministries. She (and others) noted that the gathering was taking place on National Aboriginal Day.

Matt Kitchener gave the opening prayer.

Matt Kitchener gave the opening prayer.

Following is the text of the opening prayer by Matt Kitchener, pastor of West Point Grey Baptist Church.

O God, you have bridged the distance to bring us to yourself.

Reconciling God, in you all people find their true home. We are amazed to hear of your work throughout history to bridge great distances to bring humans closer to yourself and to each other.

We hear of your work and long to see you bridge the great distances of hatred, miscommunication and disregard for others in our culture and in our time.

We hear you built bridges between the Moabites and the Israelites through Ruth and Naomi. So today we would love to see you bring reconciliation among the First Nations’ Indigenous people, those of us descended from the immigrants of long ago and those of us who have only recently immigrated.

pointgreyservicebandThank you for the stories that were able to be told during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but O God of bridge-building, the work is only half done. Make us a reconciled and reconciling people!

We hear you built bridges among Joseph, his brothers and their father Jacob. So on this Father’s Day we long to see all kinds of family relationships reconciled with each other so we might reach beyond ourselves and offer hospitality and reconciliation for our communities. Turn the hearts of children and fathers toward each other and make us a reconciled and reconciling people.

We hear you brought reconciliation between Greek and Hebrew Christians in the church’s first generation, so guide your church today into living out our oneness no matter what the sign in front of their church reads. Make our churches in West Point Grey, UBC and beyond a reconciled and reconciling people!

Jesus came proclaiming and living a kingdom of mercy and reconciliation – where tax collectors, doubters, prostitutes, foreigners and even religious people all found a home. Where we have burned bridges out of pride, shame, bitterness or lack of compassion, forgive us O God.

pointgreyservice3Invite us again to live out your kingdom’s proclamation of unity: There is no more Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. We are one in Jesus Christ.

Creator God, draw us close to your loving heart and open our eyes to see others there too; Jesus, capture our hearts again in the hearing of your loving sacrifice not just for us but for the world; Holy Spirit, empower us to love and serve those different from us especially when we aren’t feeling it.

As you have reconciled us in Christ, so turn our hearts to see others differently and enter your bridge-building, reconciling life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The churches participating in Worship in the Park were St. Helen’s Anglican Church (located right across Trimble Street from the park; it hosted coffee and snacks after the event), West Point Grey Baptist Church, West Point Grey Presbyterian Church, Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, University Campus Baptist Church, West Point Grey United Church, University Hill United Church and St. Anselm’s Anglican Church.

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