A Moment for Mission
“Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever.” -- Psalm 146:5-6, NRSV
Native American Heritage Month – a national U.S. observance since 1990 – begins today. Aligned with words in Psalm 146, the Dakota Tribe preaches, “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave behind.”
Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church is leaving tracks at Haskell Indian Nations University. The Lawrence, Kansas, congregation keeps native customs and cultures alive for local college students. With monthly Indian taco sales, the congregation raises money to help students purchase books, calculators, gasoline and more. They are bringing “home” closer for many up-and-coming leaders who are far from family and support systems.
Kahbeah Fellowship in Horton, Kansas, is leaving tracks on the Kickapoo Reservation. With hands-on help from churches in the Kansas East Annual Conference, the fellowship is worshipping in a sanctuary for the first time in 14 years. Now they can also offer a place to have Easter egg hunts, gather people for Sunday school and host a thriving Alcoholics Anonymous group.
With more than 158 Native American United Methodist churches making “tracks” throughout the United States, we celebrate Native American Heritage Month wholeheartedly, not just within our denomination, but also with our brothers and sisters across the United States.
United Methodists believe in encouraging people to express devotion to Jesus through their own cultures. Our denomination involves itself in bettering the lives of Native Americans who have influenced the lives of so many others.
Loving God, today I realize how much I take history for granted. I have not recognized those who set the path, pointed the way and made the sacrifices that have allowed me to be who I am and to believe as I do. We are connected. We are family. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
From Discipleship Resources: Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide - O Lord, you are the mighty One who commands the armies of heaven! Yet you know and care for the poor and grieving. Your Son Jesus wept at the death of his friend, Lazarus. We rejoice that you have destroyed the power of death forever in Christ’s resurrection. Thank you for the new life and hope that you so freely give. We dedicate our offerings for the work of this church. May you wipe away the tears from the eyes of all who mourn in our community. We pray in your holy name. Amen. (Isaiah 25:6-9, John 11:32-44)
November 1 is a memorable date. It is All Saints Day, when we remember God’s glory in the saints who have gone before us. It kicks off Native American Heritage Month – a national celebration of the contributions and heritage of Native Americans. And it marks the end of Daylight Saving Time 2015.
Perhaps you have heard the story about a Native American elder’s reaction when given the reason for Daylight Saving Time. He said, “Only the government would believe you could cut the foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom and have a longer blanket.”
A reputation for having wisdom (even lighthearted) is just one of the many gifts Native American peoples have shared with this world – along with compassion, forgiveness and tolerance. United Methodists believe in encouraging people to express devotion to God through their own cultures. When the divine experience of Native Americans is interwoven into the divine experience of other Christians, we become whole – not divided by culture, but united in faith.