Monthly Archives: June 2021

Where There is Hatred – Let Me Sow LOVE

We learned yesterday of yet another hate crime in our community.  This attack was against a gay man on Toronto Island last weekend.   He was taunted and then beaten almost to death by three homophobic people.  It took place only hours before the hate filled murder of a Muslim family in London, Ontario.  All of this during a pandemic which has given rise to anti-Asian racism.  An Asian friend has told me how it is not unusual for people to pass her in the street and offer hate filled slurs.  There was a significant rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in our city in the month of May and we know too well that both the black and indigenous communities are constantly combatting hate and racism. 

In a world that doesn’t like talk of sin we must name hate in all its manifestations  as nothing less and call the world around in word and deed to love.  Science tells us the variations in DNA  between all people is so very tiny.  We are all part of the same human family.   Our faith tells us that each one is created in the image of God and precious in God’s eyes.  We are all children of God.  Let us put an end to such hatred and let us love one another. 


Gracious God we pray for this world where fear and hate seem to be speaking so loudly.  It is easy to judge and speak against others. Forgive us and open us all in new ways to the light of your love that the shadows in our souls might lose their hold.  And so pray in the words of St. Francis…

Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness joy.

O Divine master grant that I may

Not so much seek to be consoled as to console

To be understood, as to understand.

To be loved. as to love

For it’s in giving that we receive

And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned

And it’s in dying that we are born…

To eternal life.  Amen. 

A Prayer For Fayez

The murder of three generations of a Muslim family in London, Ontario on Sunday evening has shaken our nation to the core.  The hatred that motivated this crime is evil.  Hatred may not always manifest itself in violence and terrorism as it now has against Muslims in London and as it did against Muslims in Quebec City, but it is where hate always leads.  Jesus said that if we hate someone we have already put them to death in our hearts.  Enough of hate.  Let’ s be done with hate. 

This must be a day for love.  Jesus called us to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.  It was then they asked Jesus, “But who is my neighbour?” And in response he told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It was Jesus’ way of saying we live in a global village where your neighbour does not always look like you or believe as you do, but where the imperative is always to love.  Love is the only answer to hate and love will win the day. 

But what does such love look like in the days after a Muslim family was intentionally run down and killed on account of their faith?  Many of us know Muslims through work, recreation or in our neighbourhoods.  Reach out to them in the next few days and thank them for who they are and tell them how horrified you are and how horrified we all are. 

Love must also be manifest in prayer.  As we pray for an end to hatred we will be planting the seeds of love.  The nine year old son, Fayez Afzaals, has survived the terrorist attack.  He lost his parents, his sister and his grandmother.  We must pray for him too and not simply for a recovery from his physical wounds, but for healing from the attack and the great grief he has to bear.

The London Muslim Mosque at 151 Oxford St W, London, ON N6H 1S1,  is hosting the vigils that have followed.  Let’s take a moment and write to the leadership of the mosque and tell them we are offering ongoing prayers for Fayez and his grieving extended family and faith community. 

Historically, Baptists were often the victims of religious discrimination and persecution and it is for this reason we have traditionally championed the cause of religious freedom.  The Muslim right to practice their religion in peace was also promoted by the earliest Baptists who insisted on freedom of religion for one and all.  We are free.  Let us use our freedom for nothing less than the purpose of love. 

A Prayer For Fayez

Gracious God, comfort and heal Fayez.  May the memories of his family be preserved in his heart and when he longs for the voice of his mother or father, may he hear them by your Spirit.  Surround him with love all the days of his life and protect and preserve his life that in his living he might bear witness to your sacred image in which we were all created.  And aid us all O God in casting out the evil spirit of hate and embracing your gift of love for one and all.  Amen. 

Two Hundred and Fifteen Unmarked Graves

Two hundred and fifteen unmarked graves were discovered last week behind what was once a residential school where government and church conspired to educate the culture out of the indigenous children and youth of our nation as was done in residential schools all across Canada.  In total there were about 130 such schools at which approximately 150,000 indigenous, Inuit and Metis children between the ages of 4 and 16 were schooled beginning in the late 19th century, with the last school closing in 1996. 

The remains of the 215 discovered children cry out begging us to name their names and give ear to their stories, but we can’t for the graves are unmarked.  And what of the parents and families from whom they were taken?  Many no doubt went to their graves grieving and wondering what ever happened to their children.   

By not marking the graves it would seem those who buried them placed no value on the children and the youth and were not going to miss them or grieve their parting.  Many of us visit family graves to silently remember those who have gone on before, but no one can find let alone visit an unmarked grave. 

The unmarked graves shame those who were there and a nation that kept silent.  It is now known that at least four thousand children died in Canadian residential schools, a much higher mortality rate than in the general public.  However it is believed there were thousands more and most lie in unmarked graves.  They died of disease and malnutrition and abuse to name but a few causes.  And when they died it was deemed too costly to send them home, so they were buried one by one and no one stopped to mark their graves. 

The church was part of this.  Oh we can point out that the Baptist church would not get involved with the state and so stayed out of the residential schools, but nonetheless we were silent.  And so it was all done in the name of the One who gave his life that each one of those children might have life abundant and eternal and we did what?  They may not have been treasured in the sight of Canada, but in God’s eyes they were. 

The day prior to the announcement of the discovery, one of the lectionary readings was from Ezekiel 37 where the prophet had a vision of a valley full of dry bones and the Lord asked him, “Mortal, can these bones live?”  And the prophet looked at the absolutely hopeless sight and replied, “O Lord, you know.” 

Indeed as we survey the bones of these unmarked graves we want their names and stories to be held up and we wish they  could come to life and be reunited with those who gave them life.  But we have made too much of a mess.  And we have lost the right to preach to the dry bones, but not the responsibility to pray and the call to work for truth and reconciliation. 


O God, we feel ashamed that generations of indigenous youth in our country were not given the dignity that your cross demands for all people.  We feel horror that these little ones were turned away into unmarked places when they were so precious to you. And oh how your name was taken in vain as if it was your agenda to remove the identity of these precious children, destroy families and discard their bodies.   Forgive our nation and heal our land.  For you O God know all of these children by name and already you have raised them up and taken them home.  Where the opening of these graves has reopened old wounds we pray for healing and hope, empathy, kindness, mercy and love.  Heal our land and reconcile our peoples by your Spirit and grace, Amen.