This week the work begun in October of 2020 will come to fruition as the harm reduction machine arrives and is installed in the former SE entrance to the building that is now home to Sackville United Church.
In the fall of 2020, as the Executive of the Sackville United Church began to consider entering into a partnership with Ensemble Moncton by providing space for a harm reduction machine, we grounded our response in our Affirming Vision and Mission Statements:
As people at Sackville United Church, we are committed to being a safe, nurturing environment, affirming and including all – those oppressed, those excluded and those marginalized (e.g. by economic status, dietary limitations, race, culture, language, age, ability, mental health, marital marital status, gender identity, and sexual orientation). We will join with all people who seek justice, compassion for all the earth, and, love and peace for all people.
Guided by the presence of God’s spirit in Christ, we will be a church family, sharing God’s unconditional love through learning, worship, and action.
These statements are of course rooted in our understandings of the stories of the one we follow, one we call Jesus and our experience of Love we name God, mysterious presence that calls us together in community, to care for one another, especially the most vulnerable among us, and to work for justice and peace for all.
There are some who might argue that by providing space for a harm reduction machine, that we are somehow condoning the use of injectable opioids and other (illegal) drugs, that we should instead be supporting addiction treatment options, that we should ‘love the sinner but not the sin’. To such criticism I can only respond that I believe, that by providing harm reduction supplies, is to meet one in their lived experience and love them in that moment – so that you can love them again tomorrow when they might be in the space to make a difference choice.
As a person of faith, as a clergy person I cannot even begin to grasp all the scientific research that supports harm reduction models in respect to addiction. Even after serving as Prison Chaplain with men who 7 times out of 10 indicated that drugs played a role in their index offence, who even in prison, found a way to use – I don’t understand addiction. But I do understand shame and guilt, sin and brokenness, forgiveness and wholeness, love and community.
Addictions are often rooted in shame and guilt and result in the compounding of sin (missing the mark) and brokenness. It is my (our) hope and prayer, that those who enter through the door and cross the threshold, under the banner of Sackville United Church to access the supplies provided by Ensemble Moncton from the harm reduction dispending machine, might receive those supplies as a gift of love – a reminder that they are worthy and good and a part of the community that we are all a part of, and that those same items might contribute to their health and safety, thereby helping them to live to see another day – and the possibility that is present in each day to make different choices.
This Sunday, marked as Transfiguration Sunday is a threshold to the Season of Lent, a season of reflection filled with thresholds to change and opportunities to make different choices – may it be so.
Like many of you, this morning I found myself on the operational end of the snow blower and snow shovel as I cleared the 20+ cm of snow off the driveway and walkways… and then then I made my way to the desk in the basement as I had no where else to be – thanks to the continuing COVID restrictions. With 50+ emails responded to and some planning and writing accomplished I’ll soon call it a day.
Tuesday will see me in the office for the morning (while Rasta is out walking with Geoffrey) during which time I will gather with the Preacher’s Help Group at 10:30AM. Follow the link if you’d like to join in. After lunch I’ll head to Moncton for a meeting.
Wednesday I will be working from home: phone calls and Zoom meetings in the morning and then, following the Community Virtual Dinner at 5PM. I’ll gather with the SUC Executive via Zoom for their monthly Grounding Meeting at 6:30PM.
And yes, unless we are in the Orange, I will be working from home again on Thursday making pastoral phone calls and working on the liturgy and sermon for Sunday and putting final touches on the Ash Wednesday service. Thursday evening is Beer and (No) Hymns at 7PM.
Friday and Saturday will be days off and on Sunday we will gather via Facebook Live at 10AM for our regular Sunday Gathering! Hope to see you then.