Sometimes I come across things in my reading that interest me and I just jot them down to let them percolate in my mind. This was the case when I read the above title of this post and had never come across this term before. It was used in a Banner article written by the young adult essay contest winner, Rylan Brue, and it lead me down a thought path that I wanted to share with you. So what is a creational reclamation project? Well in the context of Brue's essay, it was referencing God's transformation work of "making everything new" (Revelation 21: 5) It is an article well worth reading and can be found in the November 2018 edition of the Banner.
The most google relevant searches of the title phrase were not theological but came up as an industrial, man made construct. First on the list of google images for this search was the Netherlands and the image above. Now, I am not of Dutch ancestry, but being married to someone who is and being a member of a Christian denomination with such roots, I do love the culture and heritage the CRC derives from. I have a slight bias to love anything Dutch and what the Netherlands has done in the picture above, to reclaim land from the ocean, is truly a marvel of science, industry and application of knowledge about creation. Cities like Singapore, Jakarta and Dubai have copied their example in even more elaborate and artistic ways (as pictured below).
When I moved from there to searching the scriptures, I was pleasantly overwhelmed with hundreds of scriptures referencing or pertaining to renewal and reclamation. I love how the reformed faith puts such a strong emphasis on every square inch of creation belonging to God (Abraham Kuyper). The story, our story, His story, is one that traverses the entirety of the Bible, from the creation in Genesis, to the final re-creation in Revelation. As I read further into what a creational reclamation project was, I realized ... we are such a project ... we are the living embodiment of such a project ... and our being, our culture, our community and our world are the grand narrative of God's story; this project.
All of these thoughts culminated into one of my favourite characteristics about God; diversity. Diversity is reflected in the scriptures at the beginning of the Bible, the end and throughout. God created diversity and found that it was good. God is reclaiming and renewing all things, in their own beauty and diversity. He exists and shows us the ultimate example of diversity in the Trinity where we see the perfection of unity in diversity. Unity does not have to mean uniformity and in seeing this, I think we are challenged to ask ourselves if we can embrace the mystery of diversity and complexity?
The other thing I love about the dutch rooted CRC is that we are seeing an increased reality of diversity infusing into our denomination and churches. It is a beautiful thing that gives us the opportunity to take that question of whether or not we can embrace diversity and to start wrestling with it and start living it out. There are churches in our Classis that have been planted on the foundations of that diversity, planted into communities that reflect that diversity and we should all be open and excited to be hospitable in welcoming those who represent such diversity.
In Canada we sometimes rest on the principles that we are a multicultural nation and we think all people uphold those values of inclusion, but it is unfortunately not a universal reality. Racism does exist in Canada, questions come up around immigration and refugee resettlement and not just in our culture, but in our churches too. We struggle with our role as colonizers and how to better live as true treaty people with our Indigenous neighbours. These thoughts have applications in many of the ministries in our churches and in the lives of deacons. When we as deacons are forming relationships with people in our churches and communities, we have to consciously ask ourselves how we are seeing the image of God in those who are different? How can we be empathetic to their situation and context in order to feel enough to care and love them?
This is where the work of our denominations Race Relations can come along side and help us. There are many great resources, practical steps and ideas to get us talking and walking along that path of reclamation. Bernadette Arthur was recently at our Day of Encouragement to talk about some of this stuff and she would be happy to connect again with you or a group in your church. She passed on some excellent references to us, from her workshop at the DOE, and I would be happy to forward those to you. I have attached a file of a couple of references and notes from my thoughts here, but if you are interested in more or want the powerpoint slides from Bernadette's presentation, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. The link below also offers a number of great steps or initiatives that you and a group in your diaconate can look at or explore.