A Moment for Mission
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…" — 1 Peter 1:3, NRSV
Next Sunday, we will be celebrating Native American Ministries Sunday. We celebrate those gifts our Native American members contribute to The United Methodist Church, bringing a depth and a little more clarity of what God is like as we see the image of our creator reflected in them.
Not only do we recognize their presence, witness, gifts and service among us, but we also will be taking up one of our six Special Sunday offerings. The gifts collected will go toward seminary scholarships for Native American students as well as nurturing mission with Native Americans in urban areas.
Our history of living together with Native Americans has been complicated and painful and it continues to be. Many Native Americans are living in extreme poverty, some close to three times the national average. Some of the lands they were once forced to live on have been taken away. High school graduation rates and quality of housing are much lower than the rest of the nation, while illiteracy rates and teen suicide are much higher by comparison.
Those conditions can be overwhelming and difficult to overcome, yet Christ has given his followers a living hope, a hope that we, the church, are able to carry in mission into these places where there is hopelessness. We do this when we give generously to our Special Sunday offering on Native American Ministries Sunday.
Creator, we offer our thanks for the Native American people with whom we walk as one body of Christ. We thank you for their many gifts. Create within us a spirit of generosity and a desire to act and to give in ways to offer the Good News of the living hope that is in Jesus. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Second Sunday of Easter (Festival of God's Creation) - God of miracles, in the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, you overturned natural laws. Thank you for the patience Jesus showed to Thomas who was afraid that it was too good to be true. You still do wonders, transforming people's lives by your Spirit working through disciples like us. Direct our offerings to strengthen the ministries of this church, especially among people who struggle with doubt or feel distant from you. We pray through Christ, our risen Lord. Amen. (John 20:19-31)
There are over 18,000 Native American people in The United Methodist Church. Many of the Native American churches sing hymns and say prayers in their native languages as a part of their worship experience, also paying special attention to the movement of the Holy Spirit. We celebrate their contributions to worship and our church because it makes for a much fuller experience of the kingdom of God when all of our voices are heard.
Each year, on the third Sunday of Eastertide, we celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday. This is one of our Special Sundays, when congregations from across The United Methodist Church support specific ministries with our giving. This year, Native American Ministries Sunday falls on April 30. On that Sunday, 50 percent of gifts received will stay in annual conferences with Native American ministries for local use. The other half will go to help with developing and nurturing missions directed toward Native American ministries, as well as scholarships for Native American students seeking to attend seminary.