Living in a province that for years was considered a “have not” province right next door to a very wealthy “have” province has not been easy. For years, we have lost many of our youth, and many of our best and brightest to Alberta, because the opportunities there far outstrip what can be offered here. Living as close as we do to Alberta has only made the haemorrhaging that much worse for a two hour drive down a four land highway gets you into the “land of opportunity.”
But I sense that the tide is changing. A two percent reduction in provincial sales has reduced the incentive to shop in Alberta. High housing costs have reduced the incentive to live there. With all of the building, renovating and expanding going on in Swift Current, there is more being offered here and more opportunities are available here than ever before, and more will come in the future.
This move towards possible prosperity brings up the question, “What kind of community do we want to be?” On the Friday before the long weekend in February, my car broke down in Regina. It sat in a parking lot in front of a strip mall over the weekend. Sometime during the weekend, someone broke two side windows. Thankfully, nothing was stolen. But do we want to be a community where such crimes are commonplace?
Many of the small towns in our region are declining. Do we want to be a community that ignores the plight of the people living in our small towns and in our rural areas?
With all of the development in our community, there will be many people moving into our city. Do we want to be known as a community that is closed and unwelcoming?
I think that you would agree with me in saying “No!” to all of these questions. But how do we preserve the peace and safety that we presently enjoy? How do we become compassionate advocates for our rural and small town cousins? How do we open up our arms and welcome newcomers to our fair city? The answer is two words: faith and love.
Faith in a God who values peace and justice means that we value those things too, and we strive to win, preserve and protect those things. Being saved by a God of compassion means that we become compassionate, too, and we selflessly serve to help others who need assistance much more than do we. Being rescued by the open arms of God moves us to open our arms to the strangers in our midst.
It takes faith to break out of our old habits of doing the same thing all the time with the same people. It takes faith to make the first move towards becoming a welcoming, compassionate peace preserver. And it takes love. Anyone can sit on the sidelines and complain about how things are not going the way that they think they should go. They call them CAVE men. Citizens Against Virtually Everything. But it takes love to get up and make that first move to welcome someone that you do not know, to help someone who lives three RM’s away, and to take a stand against evil wherever it raises its ugly head. That’s the kind of love Jesus showed towards us. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we are who we are.
I am writing all this because, with God’s help, we have a great opportunity here to forge a future that is even better than Alberta’s. With faith and love and the help of God, instead of becoming Alberta Light, we can be Saskatchewan Premium.
(This article was written for the March 2007 edition of The Binder, the monthly newsletter of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Swift Current SK.)