Summary: Even though we may hold citizenship in a country, we are called to live as citizens of heaven
Every year, on July 1, our family can be found near the Saskatchewan Legislature taking part in the Canada Day celebrations. More specifically, you will find us watching the Canadian citizenship ceremony, if they’d let us in on it, or applauding the new citizens from virtually every corner of the globe. The ceremony takes me and Sulojana back to a day in 1988 in Stewart
Russell school when we stood up and took our oath of Canadian citizenship.
Most of you were born Canadian citizens, so you may not be familiar with the procedures that must be followed before you can become a Canadian citizen. Once you meet the residency requirement of being in Canada for at least 3 years, you submit an application along with 2 photographs and your
existing passport. The government conducts a security check to determine whether you have a criminal record and once you are cleared, you have an interview with a citizenship judge. Pass the interview and wait for the next appointed day when you will be officially made a Canadian citizen.
By the way, in preparation for the interview, you have to go through a booklet that gives you an abridged version of Canada’s geography, history, government structure, etc. You are supposed to know the names of the present Prime Minister, Governor-General, Premier of the province and other such trivia! The correct answers to these questions is supposed to qualify you to become a Canadian citizen.
Frankly, I think they should come up with a new way of qualifying people. After all, why ask those born outside of Canada questions that those born on
Canadian soil can’t even answer correctly? And, what relevance does the history or the geography of the country have to do with everyday living as a Canadian citizen anyway? How about asking questions such as:
What are Timbits? Name at least 3 varieties. Or the judge could simply say: "Could you please pass me a serviette, I just spilled poutine on my toque in
the foyer?" and watch the applicant’s face for either an understanding nod or a puzzled look that says: “Would you repeat that in English, please?”
True or false: Francophones & anglophones are devices that do not communicate well with one another.
Recite the words to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot, Anne Murray’s “You needed me”. or "If I had a million dollars" by The Barenaked Ladies, including the inter-stanza banter between Steven and Ed.
Do the hand actions to Sharon, Lois and Bram’s ``Skin-a-marinki-dinki-do.’’
And, finally, see if they can sing the first four lines of “O Canada” without making a mistake!
In any event, every country has its own requirements for citizenship. And no matter what procedure we follow to obtain that citizenship, we do not realize
its value until we find ourselves outside the country, at a border crossing or an immigration office, when someone looks at the passport or citizenship
certificate we present and gives us the go-ahead.
I vividly remember the difference in treatment I received when I returned to India with an Indian passport several years ago and a Canadian passport
three years ago. The first time they did everything but strip search me, and wouldn’t let me through until I paid the customs officer a bribe, with which he was rather disappointed, because the only dollars I had on my person were Canadian, not American...apparently even Indians can tell the difference! This last time, no questions asked. They simply let me through.
Yes, the citizenship we hold does make a difference. The passport is the ultimate proof of our citizenship. However, in practical terms, how do people discover our true citizenship when we are in another land? Canadians who are not blessed with a natural tan as I have, when you travel overseas, are advised to wear Canadian pins on your lapel, Canadian flags on your jackets, backpacks and other pieces of luggage, especially if you are in a territory that is hostile towards the U.S. This way you will not be mistaken for an American citizen!
Discerning observers can detect the Canadian as soon as you open your mouth and start talking, eh? But, if you did not know how to look for these tell-tale signs, how could you tell?
In our reading, Paul tells us that We ARE citizens of heaven. No matter which country’s passport we may hold, all Christians, all who follow Jesus are
now made citizens of heaven. No residency requirements. No book to study first. You may or may not have had an interview that resulted in your being
baptized or confirmed. But you made a choice to follow Jesus Christ. And when you made that choice, when you received him as your Lord and Saviour, as the One whose life and teachings are now your norm, right then