Rev. Graham Browmiller – United Church of Canada
As I write this I see on the television reminders that it was one year ago that the Olympic Games opened in Vancouver – hard to believe that it has been a whole year since those opening ceremonies and the opening of those games. By the time this is published, there will have been numerous news stories reminding those of us watching what happened a year before. Do you remember the first gold? Do you remember the fourth? Do you remember the gold that was won when the men’s hockey team won gold on that last day? I sure do.
I was sitting in a restaurant in New Westminster watching that game with some friends. But, even more important for me was three days earlier when I was sitting in a restaurant downtown Vancouver with some more friends watching the women’s hockey team win gold. Among those I was sitting with were three women who played hockey themselves. Watching them watch the game was a beautiful moment.
I find it interesting though how much and how often the Olympics are referred to and the match that mattered the most to many people was the men’s hockey team. Both teams are Canadian, they both play the same game, they both won gold, so why is one better than the other?
Mixed into all of the memories about the Olympics, I continue to watch news reports that are sharing information about what is continuing to happen in Egypt. One of my colleagues sent me an email the other day that had an article entitled “Christians and Muslims in Egypt: We’re all Egyptian!”
That’s a lot of what the Olympics helped show us, wasn’t it? That no matter what differences we hold, we are all connected in some way. In Egypt, Muslims protected the Christian churches when there was some scare about safety and then groups of Christians would stand around the square while Muslims said their daily prayers. They were protecting each other because they recognize what the others are doing as similar to their own practices.
I think sometimes we forget that Christians, Muslims and Jews are all related through our family story and ancestor Abraham. It doesn’t mean we all believe what each other believes, but what it does mean is that there is some need to engage the conversation with each other. We need to recognize that what we know about Islam really comes from the extreme fundamentalists in the news, not the people who live their everyday lives almost exactly as we live. Similarly, what the world knows about Christianity is because of the extreme fundamentalists, both conservative and fundamentalist. It’s pretty rare we ever hear about the everyday people who are living the story, sharing God’s Word.
Clearwater United and the Church of St Paul in Barriere are working towards some of this visible unity by being worshipping communities of Anglicans, Uniteds and Lutherans. It has been just about a year since we made it official, but three years now the three denominations have been worshipping together. It is still a life-giving and affirming relationship that every day I give thanks for the faithful discipleship that goes on because of those relationships.
On Sunday, March 20, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Barbara Andrews, Bishop for the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior will be visiting (and preaching at) both Clearwater United (9 a.m.) and the Church of St Paul in Barriere (11 a.m.). Another visible sign of unity as Bishop Barbara and I lead worship together and celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. It should be a fantastic day when we remember “We are all Christian!” regardless of denomination!