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By the rivers of Babylon-- there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How could we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy. Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem's fall, how they said, "Tear it down! Tear it down! Down to its foundations!" O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!   The psalm we read today was written during or just after the Babylonian exile.  A time when the Babylonians captured the city of Jerusalem and took the elite of it’s people into exile. There the people of Israel remained for generations, and the trauma of this event has lived on through out the songs and stories of Israel for over 2 and a half thousand years! 2 thousand….5 hundred ….years. Still the people of Israel have not forgotten. Here in Canada, starting a mere one hundred ninety one years ago, residential schools did much the same.  People from foreign lands came and took the children of this land into exile.  Into residential school.  The very first school was in Brantford, Ontario in 1831 and the last residential school closed in Punnichy, Saskatchewan in 1996.  A mere 26 years ago. 26 years ago, that is in your lifetime…my lifetime. And if Israel recalls the exile of 2500 years ago, why do we think people should have forgotten the system that exiled and oppressed an estimated 150,000 children ending a mere 26 year ago?  This isn’t ancient history…this is our lifetime.  And our parents, and grandparents, and their parents. Four generations of trauma.  Trauma that was explicitly intended to obliterate an entire culture, and entire indigenous and Metis people. In our psalm today,  the Babylonians whom the psalmist was talking about did indeed  take the elite of Israel, but there wasn’t an agenda of annihilation, rather they were treated relatively well.  Hostages to be guarded rather than barbarians to be assimilated by any means necessary. Even so, when we read psalm 137 we hear the anger, the bitterness and the shame filled fury that the Psalmist speaks for the people of Israel. O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!   Revenge!  An eye for an eye!  The very human, very broken response of getting back those who have hurt you.  It is horrific to hear…to imagine. Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!   A truly horrific thing to say, but we know that this happens.  War, genocide, oppression leads to these horrific retaliations.  Even the Anglican Residential schools too often had the same result…neglect leading to death of so many little ones.  It would be completely unsurprising if the families of those little one wished the same on the oppressors to caused such harm.  Yet, it is not always that way.  We have been taught in Christ to forgive, to seek repentance and relationship rather than revenge. So it is ironic to me and sad really, that the settler people, the people in power thought they had to “civilize” and “Christianize” Indigenous and Metis people when what I have observed is that many indigenous and Metis cultures are more forgiving and hospitable than so many of the Christian evangelists and educators I have read about. On Orange Shirt Day, this past Friday, my family attended the Orange Shirt Day Pow Wow at the convention center. This was an event that hosted thousands.  Thousands of people who have suffered cultural genocide, thousands whose families have been affected directly and indirectly by residential school trauma.  Who have spent generations trying to recover what was stolen from them. They were indigenous and Metis people who were both local and who had driven hours to attend.  They gathered to recognize Orange Shirt Day, a day of remembrance of all the Children who were forced to attend residential school, all who suffered, all who died and all who survived…as well as their families. One could imagine, looking at the psalm today and that biblical example of response to trauma that this might be an event full of anger at what happened.  An event that would be very exclusive to indigenous and Metis people and hostile to those who resembled the people who oppressed them. Rather the Pow Wow had a feeling of hospitality, of joy, of celebration and of Truth. When the MC spoke of the intergenerational trauma suffered, he noted how wonderful that the Hoop dancers were Father and daughter and how great it was that the traditions were passed down. When Murdered and Missing Women were mentioned.   When the children murdered at residential school were acknowledged they were spoken of in terms the importance of them to be remembered and to honoured. This was so clear when one family of survivors and children of survivors was brought forward and sung to with Honour Songs, a blanket was gifted and wrapped around the elders of the family.  They were escorted around the circle and wen the family made it to the center of the pow wow circle individuals from the crowds came forward to shake hands, thank them and support them.     And when the time came to dance …everyone was invited forward…no questions asked. The Pow Wow was in the words of the M/C about celebrating culture, remembering the truth and living lives of reconciliation. This is the culture Christians tried to destroy because it was thought to be uncivilized and barbarous.  Yet, it seems to me that the culture I encounter and see is more ‘Christian’ than many Christians I have met.  In fact, when I read 1 Timothy today, I think of indigenous and Metis culture as exemplifying in many ways the attitude displayed in 1st Timothy. I am grateful to God--whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did--when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.  For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. What I have encountered is a culture of love and self discipline, a culture that rejoices in reconciliation rather than revenge.  A culture that honours and respects our mothers and grandmothers and the wisdom that they provide us with.  A culture that honours it’s elders and it’s traditions.  A culture that keeps faith alive in the face of over whelming odds and even genocide. Thursday and Friday were Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  The truth is that we have a long way to go in understanding our part in the history and in the present challenges that indigenous and Metis people face.  We have a lot to reconcile and we can do that in part by recognizing the ways our indigenous and Metis brothers and sisters live out their faith.  In honour, in celebration, in truth and in reconciliation. We can work towards reconciliation humbly by recognising that we don’t have all the answers and that the example we have given are not always the best examples out there. I pray that we continue to learn and grow in humility and love, looking at our indigenous and Metis brothers and sisters as role models in reconciliation, hospitality and indeed what we would call “Christian’ love.