Peter’s Letter to Canadian Christians

Steve Heinrichs is a Settler Christian from Winnipeg, Manitoba —Treaty 1 territory and the homeland of the Métis Nation, He is the director of Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada.

This article originally appeared in the Canadian Mennonite.


Letter to Canadian Christians

To the friends living in the colonized lands of the Salish, Mi’kmaq and Innu. This is Peter, follower of the poor Christ, in prison on the West Coast. I write because the time is urgent. Some say, “The end of the world is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). Some say, “Eternity is being determined now.” Some say, if the idols of capital continue unabated, we'll “exceed the threshold of 1.5 degrees in 10 years.” 

I’m not sure. But what I know is that we are not “aliens and strangers” to God’s love and the world’s grace (1 Peter 2:11). What I know is that we are citizens of creation, and we must defend “the heavens and earth that are reserved for fire” (2 Peter 3:7). What I know is that the plans of the proud need to be dismantled and history launched into holiness—for it is written, “Seek justice and correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17).

The crucified across ‘Canada’ have sounded the alarm. Host peoples and waters, trees and fish, have lifted their voices in united lament—“Our common home is in peril!” They’ve summoned big business and urged the affluent—“Cease and desist your extractive ways!”

Yet the establishment, driven by voracious visions of growth, have shutdown ears and suspended hearts. And so have most Christians. Addicted to the throw-away culture, numbed by Netflix, distracted by dreams of the next marvelous vacation, they sit idly by offering tacit blessing to the status quo. 

Is there hope? Can God move us out of climate darkness and into a measure of light (1 Peter 2:9)? Will a remnant of the church join the bruised and battered who are standing up for sister Earth?  

For Christ’s sake, we pray—“Move us! Into his steps, into his example (1 Peter 2:21)!”

Decoration image for quotation

He came preaching peace,
good news of God’s reign.
He came preaching challenge,
contesting the reign of death.
He was put to death by the powers,
but made alive in the spirit!

1 Peter 3:18

Remember friends: our Lord was killed not because he helped the poor, not because he showed mercy to the suffering, but because he confronted the ruling authorities. You simply can’t go around saying hard things like he did and expect to live long.

Remember friends: God has called us to do good in the form of this Christ. Earth is being un-created, and the forces of the fossil economy—oil corporations, near-sighted governments, free-market churches—must be challenged. Yes, we do good through gentle lifeways. Yes, we do good by living simply and alternatively. But we also do good by denouncing the gods that are consuming God’s world.

If we do, we will suffer. We will get pushed out of churches. We will get pushed into prisons. Yet if we endure, we will receive the approval of the One who raised Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:21).

Stand fast in God’s grace, beloved (1 Peter 5:12). And stand up.


Reprinted with permission from the author

Steve Heinrichs is a Settler Christian from Winnipeg, Manitoba —Treaty 1 territory and the homeland of the Métis Nation. The director of Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada, Steve is a student of activism who loves to march with his partner, Ann, and their children, Izzy, Aiden, and Abby. Over the last four years, Steve has had the privilege of editing a number of works seeking to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action—the latest is Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization. This past year, Steve was arrested and sent to jail for supporting the Tsleil-Waututh’s resistance to the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

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