Oct24SunOctober 24, 2021 by Carey Meadows-Helmer
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- Pr. Carey
A Grassroots Movements Among Lutherans
Today we recognize the extraordinary work of Canadian Lutheran world relief. A grassroots movement started by Lutherans in Canada in March 1946 in response to the needs for relief and refuge following the Second World War. Thousands of refugees were assisted in finding a new home in Canada. As well, clothing, bedding, blankets, and food were organized and sent to displaced persons in Europe. The good works of CLWR were taking root with the commitment of working toward justice, peace and dignity for all people.
Canadian Lutheran World Relief is one of Canada’s oldest and most trusted humanitarian organizations. Over the years, many partnerships have been forged with other organizations and local Lutheran churches such as St. Matthews. The goal is to responds to the injustice which causes human suffering and poverty while working toward a healthy and sustainable world where people live in peace with hope, justice, dignity and equality. (1)
CLWR’s international programs are in places such as Ethiopia, El Salvador, Myanmar, Uganda, Palestinian Territories, and Burundi…. With much need work that focusses on water sanitation, education, poverty reduction, food security, gender equity, creating livelihoods, shelter and climate adaptation in places that are fragile from climate change. (2)
CLWR also steps into places that have experienced natural disasters such as when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, or recently when major earthquakes hit Indonesia and Haiti.
Another area of CLWR’s focus is Refugee resettlement of people from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Even during the pandemic when travel restriction were in place, 51 refugees were resettled to Canada This was done in partnership with Canadian churches. (2) St. Matthews worked in partnership with CLWR in the sponsorship of refugees. Sebastian said that Moona, Jennifer and Jillian from CLWR were a tremendous support in our first full sponsorship. We pray for Tsgereda and Raei in their move from Kitchener to Winnipeg.
How have you been impacted by the work of CLWR? Has it helped others that you know? Do you support CLWR financially? You may not know this, but by supporting St. Matthews, you also support the work of CLWR. Each year St. Matthews donates a to CLWR though coffee hour donations. It’s also an option to direct our donations through our monthly giving. Sebastian and I give a monthly offering to the work of St. Matthews through PAR, with some of that monthly offering being directed toward the work of CLWR.
The impact of this work over the past 75 years is commendable. Many are compelled to support this work.
A Story Told (3)
In an interview, two sisters named Edith and Erika tell how CLWR helped in their time of need in the 40’s.
Sisters, Edith and Erika were two of the millions displaced their homes when Europe was ravaged by the Second World War.
Who were supported by CLWR as they fled to Canada. When asked, what would you say to someone who has never had to go through that type of hardship, that type of experience?
They wouldn’t believe us..
You can’t imagine what it was like.
“I still have, the gunfire in my ears. That followed us all the way on our journey Poland to East Germany. A field or two over you could see the bombs exploding.”
Edith says, I remember I was allowed to sit on the wagon because I was too little to walk then and Erika had to walk beside my mother. My mother would put her hand in there and hold my hand because I was alone under this covered wagon, and I didn’t want to be there.
Between 1948 and 1985, a ship called the Beaverbrae completed 52 voyages from Germany, Holland and Belgium to Canada, carrying over 33000 passengers displaced by the Second World War to start new lives here in Canada. (3)
Erika and Edith are only two of the people impacted by the humanitarian work of CLWR.
Millions of lives have been changed .
Canada Lutherans continue to rise to the occasion and help…
The readings today ground us in this call to love God and neighbour and to respond with acts of justice.
We aren’t accustom to hearing this Gospel of Transfiguration at this time of year but it’s fitting on such a Sunday. Jesus is up on the mountain top with some of the disciples. Talking, praying, sitting down to replenish with a snack, taking in the scenery from the mountaintop. There were no cable car to take them to the mountaintop. Only their feet and an invitation from Jesus to walk alongside. To accompany Jesus to the place where they unknowingly experience the love, wholeness and peace of God.
They see how Jesus is transfigured and transformed before them. A God moment that transforms and has the power to transform the world. Is it of any surprise that they want to stay in the moment?
For the disciples, this is a tangible experience to help them envision and live out God’s mission in the world. They saw the Jesus before in their midst and could not look back.
It reminds me of what my 6 year old son says, I know God is real. I’ve seen Jesus at church.
After Jesus is transfigured before them, a bright cloud not a dark cloud comes over head. They’re afraid. God says, do not be afraid. You have nothing to fear.
After that, we know how the story goes, don’t we. Jesus and the disciples go down the mountain and immediately they are met with the needs of the word. A father comes to them, concerned for his son who suffers terribly. He comes near to Jesus again. First he went to the disciples to no effect, says he. This time he is face to face with Jesus. Jesus first admonishes him for his lack of faith before making the boy is made well.
Jesus reminds that this mysterious and life giving spirit has the capacity to transform the world. Even when Jesus is not physically present, God’s spirit works for justice among the most vulnerable in the world.
This is what we hear of when we retell the story of the grassroots origins of CLWR. A few people who recognized a need, a pain in the world, and started with a small response that kept on growing.
May we, as disciples of the living God, be so blessed as to recognize the hurt of the world and have a response to give. A small response is often an inroad to something larger. The road is long, the steps are many, yet God walks with us empowering us to take those small and steady steps toward a more just world.
When fear takes hold, may the do not fear narrative of our Lord speak louder to our hearts.
Blessed are the justice speakers, the peace makers and those who take small steps in faith.
May it be so with us.
1. CLWR’s Mission and Vision Statement
2. CLWR Annual Report 2020-2021. https://cdn.givecloud.co/s/files/1/0000/0010/files/ar-2021.pdf
3. 75 Years of CLWR. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjNRVPtxCWw