May 01 – Native American Ministries Sunday (Today)/Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
A Moment for Mission
“Then I … heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.” —Revelation 5:11, NRSV
“Then I heard the sound of countless numbers of spirit-messengers, thousands upon thousands of them, and then thousand times ten thousand. They made a grand circle around the seat of honor, the spirit animals, and the elders.” —Revelation 5:11, First Nations Version (New Testament in Native/Indigenous language)
I come from a long line of proud Cherokee people. Many from my family arrived in Arkansas ahead of the forced evacuation referred to as the Trail of Tears. My ancestors, known as the Old Settlers, were promised fertile land in this area as an act of trade and good faith. The land was not fertile. It became second nature to know who we were but to claim to be something other than Cherokee.
The acts against Native Americans continued into the 20th century. Children were taken away from Native families and forced to be enculturated into a “white way” of life. They were told that their language, worship and traditions were evil.
As one who has had to regain her identity, it is helpful to know that within my faith tradition, we are proud to claim that the 5.2 million Native Americans in the United States are not to be hidden and discarded. I am proud to know that our church recognizes that we are here.
Through generous giving on Native American Ministries Sunday , United Methodists provide scholarships to Native American seminarians and support vital ministries and churches in Native American communities.
Native American Ministries Sunday gives us an opportunity as the children of God to show that reconciliation for past wrongs can happen. Our gifts on this Special Sunday offer hope and a voice to those who have felt voiceless for years.
Adapted from “Native American Ministries Sunday Is an Opportunity to Right Past Wrongs,” Arkansas United Methodist, April 14, 2021, the Rev. Angie Gage, Cherokee, CONAM chair, Arkansas Annual Conference, [email protected]. Used by permission.
Do you know the meaning of your name? [Hold up a stuffed toy lamb.] In the book of Revelation, John called Jesus “the Lamb.” At the time, it was very dangerous to follow Jesus. John used the word “lamb” as a code word to share about Jesus.
In Native American culture, people’s names are often based on the way they look or act. These names are given in a ceremony that considers the special qualities of each person. It’s similar to Jesus as the Lamb of God, who showed us how to love God and one another.
God gives us many ways to express ourselves. As followers of Jesus, we are more alike than we are different. Sometimes, we sing different songs or pray differently.
Today we celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday. The Lakota people have a saying, “Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ,” which means “we are all related.” No matter what language we speak, we are all part of God’s family.
Loving God, thank you for the many languages and traditions of your people. Show us how to honor Jesus, the Lamb of God, through our relationships with one another. We love you. Amen.
Great Spirit, Creator, thank you for the many languages and traditions of your people. Show us how to honor Creator Sets Free, Jesus, through our relationships with one another. We love you. Aho! (Amen!)
From Discipleship Ministries: Third Sunday of Easter — Redeeming God, we live in a world that is far too ready to say that you can’t be found, ready to choose punishment over mercy, judgment over compassion. Our world is too eager to put energy into exclusion rather than working to be inclusive of all your children. We confess to you that, like Saul, we have been blind, even in our sightedness, to what you are doing in the world. We need our eyes to be truly opened, Lord, to who you really are. Let our blindness fall away and let us see the good that we can do -- through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and our witness -- to help usher in your kingdom here and now. May the gifts we give this morning be just the beginning of our availability to be your tools for bringing about the world you desire. We pray it in the name of the risen Christ. Amen. (Acts 9:1-6, (7-20) )
Native American Ministries Sunday reminds United Methodists of the gifts and contributions made by Native Americans to our society. We work in partnership with Native American churches and communities to repair past harm and to celebrate current ministries.
The special offering develops and strengthens Native American ministries within each annual conference; provides scholarships for Native American seminarians; and enriches and equips Native American rural, urban and reservation congregations, ministries and communities.
The United Methodist Church, the world and our communities are in a time of transition. Together, God’s church can be a beacon of healing and hope that can guide us to becoming a new creation in Christ. Through our support, we partner with God and God’s people to strengthen Christ’s loving presence in a hurting world.
Our Special Sunday offerings invest in servant leadership, community building and ministries of peace with justice. Concentrating our resources to support shared ministries equips us to step—with faithful determination—into a grace-filled new beginning.