On this inaugural statutory holiday observing Truth and Reconciliation, the people of this nation are invited to come to terms with hard historical truths — namely, the deep wounds inflicted by settlers upon the first peoples who have been the stewards of these lands since time immemorial. It is harm that began in the past, but still impacts the present.
This is a hard and difficult truth to face for a nation, which has done so much good in the world, but healing can’t come before the truth.
Truth and reconciliation stands at the very heart of the Christian faith. When we confess our sins individually, or collectively, we acknowledge the ways we have hurt God and other human beings.
It takes courage to face unpleasant truths about ourselves. It takes courage to stop rationalizing or excusing ourselves, granting ourselves what the great German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”, which is grace without truth.
But reconciliation through Christ does not put us on a journey of constant, unrelenting, self-recrimination either. Scripture makes clear that forgiveness and new life is available, because, through the cross of Christ, God has reconciled himself to us. Such reconciliation is embodied in John 3:16 which tells us that, out of immeasurable love, God gave his only son for our sake.
Through divine reconciliation, new life is possible. Many who have led previously destructive lives, have experienced new life. One such person was John Newton, a man who had been a slave trader. After realizing the evil of his ways, he composed “Amazing Grace”— a hymn shaped around the theme of truth and reconciliation.
Christians are called to shape their daily lives around truth and reconciliation. Though baptized once, we are called to constantly live out that baptism, by dying to sin, and rising with Christ, being struck down by the truth, and being reborn through God’s reconciling love. Having received God’s reconciling love, we are called to extend love to our neighbours — especially those who have suffered because of our actions or inactions. Through divine grace, those who have been wounded are enabled to extend grace to those who have wounded them.
Truth and reconciliation are indeed both necessary in life, and are deeply spiritual. Today, let us pray, on this day, that as painful truths are revealed and faced, true reconciliation and healing follows and continues.