KAIROS Calls for Apocalyptic Living

prophetic witness

Over the last two centuries, the Western World has made great strides in abolishing slavery, improving corporate treatment of the environment, putting an end to racism and creating a more materially equitable society — that is, depending on whose history you’re reading.

If we take a realistic approach to today’s domestic and global social realities, it is impossible to deny that for every justice-seeking step forward, our society has — concurrently — taken two or three steps back, much to the chagrin of the invisible Church.

Take, for example, the well known and often quoted statistic that there are, globally, more slaves in bondage at this very moment than there were for the entire length of the American slave trade. The atrocities are of equal weight concerning humanity’s treatment of the environment and each other — both here in Canada and abroad. One of the worst environmental and social injustices in the world involves the Canadian oil companies flooding the Northern Alberta watershed with toxins, which are the cause of lethal cancers responsible for killing members of the First Nations community in Fort Chipewyan.

Also suffering from abuse are the migrant workers employed on tar sand project sites. Enticed by the promise of Canadian capital, these workers are void of rights upon arrival, and coerced to labour under inhumane conditions leading to illness, exhaustion, and even death (there have been documented events, for example, of exhausted workers driving heavy equipment off high ledges to their demise).

Despite such human rights abuses, the use of unethically sourced fuels are woven so intricately into the fabric of society that it seems impossible — even for faithful followers of Christ — to do anything but comply and hope for better days. This problem is persistent in regards to all justice issues. There is one group of believers, however, who have taken up the holy commission to do justice, and to strive to see the realization of that justice today.

Persistently seeking justice

That group is KAIROS, and throughout the third week of June, the Canadian Ecumenical Justice organization conducted its first nation-wide gathering, hosting delegate members from all across the country and from all sectors of society. Since its inception in 1996, KAIROS has worked diligently to follow the biblical call to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Comprised of 11 different member churches, the organization is truly ecumenical, representing the full spectrum of Christian thought concerning what it means to “do justice.” Fully aware of the social problems woven through the fabric of modern society, KAIROS calls for social change, and this recent gathering was a strengthening of that call throughout the entire KAIROS network.

Essential to the gathering was the presence of the multiple voices found within this country — many of which spend much of their time on the fringes of society. These include the disabled, First Peoples, youth, and the impoverished. In fact, including these voices gave the conference a more genuinely authentic feel, as the Church, while calling for justice, was forced to act justly within the immediate KAIROS community. This justice included observing the privilege of “dominant culture” Canadians to use land which traditionally belongs to this country’s First Peoples (including the land upon which the university of Waterloo has been constructed). KAIROS members were welcomed to the land by friends belonging to First Peoples communities who patiently taught “dominant culture” Canadians about the sacredness of the land. This deepened and enriched the cause for environmental justice. The multiplicity of voices had similar effects on all ways of doing justice — from fair trade initiatives to First People’s justice.

Indeed, the gathering focused not only on the encouragement and networking of KAIROS members, but also on fostering new ways of thinking to direct the new world order forming out the ashes of the present economical crisis. The gathering’s title — “The End of the World as We Know It… Thank God!” — spoke to the apocalyptic nature of the crisis and the importance of living out of that reality. Living out of apocalypse, in fact, is exactly how justice is to be carried out, urged Ched Myers — one of the gathering’s plenary speakers — for hidden within the word’s meaning is a definite sense of the unmasking of history.

In apocalypse, then, the culture of injustice characteristic of modern society is revealed—or unveiled—so that reality is viewed from the standpoint of redemption, and from the perspective of the poor and marginalized. From such a perspective flows forth a new way of living that is inclusive towards all of creation. Buying fairly traded products, using renewable energy sources, and even actively advocating for justice are all included in this new way. An apocalyptic sense of justice sees the world as it should be—renewed by God—and strives to follow Jesus into the coming of the new creation. KAIROS, then, lives out of that apocalyptic view of the new world, unmasking the present order and leading the ecumenical charge, racing fervently towards redemption and the completed justice of God’s New Creation.

Filed in: Spirited Reflections


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