I think I’m a fortunate man. I’m blessed with a great “job”, great staff, and a great purpose; I get to help other people! Not only that, but my office windows face ‘Angel Square’ and I may be the only one in North Central whose office overlooks a park. That’s kind of cool. Some days I like to take a few moments to stare out the window and think about what I’m working on. Sometimes I like to pray and sometimes I just watch the people outside.
As for the park, in 1883 it was the site of the North-West (pre Province of Saskatchewan) Territorial Government Buildings. They consisted of the Legislative Building, the Administration Building and the Indian Office. The Administration Building, now a Provincial Heritage Property, is the only building of the three that still stands today. However; did you know that it was also at this very location that the ‘rebel’ Louis Riel was hanged for treason on November 16, 1885?
Louis Riel was born in 1844 and grew up in Quebec as a French Roman Catholic with the initial intention of becoming a priest. He never did. Some said he was insane, as he claimed he was receiving ‘divine revelations’ as a prophet of God. There is still a great deal of debate and speculation about him today, but what we do know is this: 1) he orchestrated Manitoba’s Red River Rebellion – fighting for Metis rights when the Government of Canada refused to honour the treaties that it had signed, 2) he was a three time elected member of parliament, 3) he was instrumental in leading the Saskatchewan North-West Rebellion of 1885 which included the Battles of Duck Lake, Fish Creek, Batoche, and Loon Lake, and 4) he is now recognized as the founding father of the Province of Manitoba. He also sentenced a man to death, and he was a father of three.
Drastically outnumbered, it was only after defeat at the Battle of Batoche that Louis Riel surrendered. He was arrested, shipped to Regina, tried for treason, and sentenced to death by hanging. Such is the way of the Rebel. Still many questions remain; like didn’t he fight for the abused, the down trodden, the exploited? Does the end justify the means? Is he a hero? Did he deserve to die? Would he have been hung today?
As I stared out of my window pondering all these things I was reminded of another so called rebel; the man called Jesus Christ! He also spoke of the poor and the oppressed and he too dwelt among the down trodden. He wanted to change things. He spoke of a new kingdom, and he called himself the ‘King of the Jews’, a culture that like our First Nations people had been conquered as well.
This ‘rebel’ moved against the grain of the times too. He was a friend of sinners, he healed the sick, he talked of forgiveness in a time when the strongest arms ruled, and he loved the little children. Some thought him a hero and some not, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the way people thought and acted. He spoke against greed, hatred and anger, and lust, but he never took up arms to further his cause. He chose love instead!
Many viewed Jesus as a threat to their way of life; his own people doubted him (John 1:46), the spiritual leaders of the time tried to trap him in perjury (Matthew 22:15-22), and the Roman Government put him on trial without reason (Matthew chapter 27). In the end he was crucified! Such is the way of the Rebel.
BUT TAKE HEART … his story doesn’t stop there! Though he lived and died as a man he committed no sin nor any crime. He was also the son of God, and he arose from the grave in total victory!! His death and resurrection gave us eternal life. Eternal life without sin and with the promise of heaven and an un-corrupted world. Take heed … his words are life, and I pray that you’ll hear his call; see John 3:16, Romans 6:23, and Romans 10:9.