Orange Shirt Day: Metanoia, a time to turn toward  

As we near Orange Shirt Day, or the Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are faced with a time to look carefully and theologically at the ways in which we symbolically and liturgically represent reconciliation for our people. While we understand ritual as Anglicans, it is more important now than ever to think clearly about the language we use and the signs and signifiers we employ.  

We believe that it is important for each congregation to find the way they will acknowledge this day, to be a true representation of their path to decolonization. This is integral to the process of decolonization itself, which by its very nature is not limited to, or strictly for, Indigenous peoples, but for us all. We must inhabit our ritual, dwell within our sacred symbols; they must be part of us, extensions of our intentions and values, rather than imported traditions and echoes of a colonial past.  

Thus, what we offer here are suggestions for how to think through the process of designing this liturgy, and the theological reasons for how such liturgies may take shape.  

Firstly, please examine language carefully. Colonial language such as the use of nation for the country of Canada upholds a bigoted view of the world and should not have a place in this liturgy. The Indigenous peoples of this land are sovereign nations in their own right and should be accorded this title.  

Consider using the liturgical colour purple, representative of a time of penitence, as this day is an acknowledgment of harm done and the continued oppression of Indigenous peoples. It is a time for penitence and humility and anticipation for how God acts in our lives, not a time for cultural celebration.  

This is an extra-ordinary day in an extraordinary time in Canada we are recognizing Orange Shirt Day on the 30th, using the form for morning or evening prayer in Lent, and beginning with Confession would be a useful way to engage your congregation. If you do happen to use Confession, consider not offering Absolution. We understand this will be jarring, but it is important to understand that reconciliation is not here yet, and this societal sin of colonialization and racism has not been excised nor is it absolved. Ending with a prayer for future reconciliation and the ability to recognize our responsibility to each other would be appropriate. As well, you may remove Confession and Absolution all together, and place the emphasis on a Litany that recalls the historic and current colonization and seeks a future hope for all Gods people.  

Finally, Eucharist is our strongest symbol as Anglicans for reconciliation, a place where we humbly kneel (or stand) before God to receive unearned grace. The act of coming to the table can symbolize for us the act of joining with one another, in solidarity as Christians and Children of God. The table is open to the hungry, not the worthy, and an emphasis on this can take the place of Absolution. We are all absolved in the breaking of the bread by God’s grace, rather than a settler congregation being absolved by a settler priest.  

This day stands as a reminder that we are a broken people, but we are also a resurrected people. We have the hope of new life from the dead, grace upon grace poured out unreservedly and without warrant. It is that hope that we must call attention to. The seeds of reconciliation, of the Kingdom, reside in us all; we must only water them and let them grow.    

Collect for Orange Shirt Day  

Creator God, Master of Life and Great Mystery,
Of peace, justice, and concord;
Open our ears, our eyes, our lungs, and our hearts,
Give us the spirit of condolence.
Instill in us the Good Mind.
Let us seek your justice in a broken world,
Let us search for understanding in your Creation.
Help us to be reconciled to you and to each other.
In the self-giving ethic of the Cross,
Let us be emptied of hatred and apathy,
Greed and selfishness.
Fill us with the wideness and wildness of your Spirit,
In the name of your First Son, Jesus Christ,
We ask all this. Amen  

By: Ven. Rosalyn K. Elm, Archdeacon for TRC and Indigenous Ministries Rev Hana Scorrar, Priest in Charge, Zion Oneida and St Andrews Chippewa Muncey