A Moment for Mission
"Give ear; O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth." — Psalm 78:1, NRSV
In November, we celebrate Native American Heritage Month. We celebrate all the ways that Native Americans contribute to our country, culture and churches. We remember how they bravely extended kindness to newcomers who were unfamiliar with the new terrain. We also remember that kindness was not what was returned. Rather it was forcible removal from homelands, exposure to disease, and even massacres.
In The United Methodist Church, we remember our 2012 Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples and the Sand Creek massacre that included a surprise attack led by a Methodist pastor in 1864. We remember and repent, because as Archbishop Desmond Tutu learned in his post-Apartheid work with reconciliation, "true reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth … because, in the end, only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing."
We remember because we are still healing. We remember because our nation is still divided and we, as God's people, can be a light along a dark path toward reconciliation.
On Native American Heritage Sunday, we celebrate the God who created us all, stamping each one of us in the image of the Creator. We celebrate the wisdom and witness of our Native American brothers and sisters who remind us to honor the gift of creation by our Creator.
Great Creator, you have stamped humankind, with all of its diversity, with your image. You have given us the earth to sustain us. Grant within us a spirit of unity that celebrates the diversity of your creation, that gives dignity to our Native American brothers and sisters, and honors the gift of this earth. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost / International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church — O Lord our God, you are completely righteous and good. In Christ, you call us to worship you in Spirit and truth. Help us to connect our faith with our daily actions. Thank you for the freedom to gather and worship you. Please protect our Christian brothers and sisters in every land. May our church contribute to an unending flow of justice for those in need. Let our lives and offerings be pleasing in your sight. We pray through Christ your Son. Amen. (Amos 5:18-24)
November is Native American Heritage Month. We celebrate Native American Heritage Month as The United Methodist Church, recognizing that we are woven together in our American heritage, as well as in our common worship with those Native Americans who are members alongside us. This involves remembering and acknowledging hurts of the past and seeking to be inclusive today that we might move forward together as God's beloved, worshiping and living together as God's diverse people.
During this month, we are reminded that there are ways we can honor Native Americans among us today, as we celebrate their witness in the church and in the world. An example of this was in the peaceful protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the standing for the protection of God's creation. Our United Methodist teachings are that "water is a sacred gift from God" and part of our faithfulness requires us "to ensure that water remains pure and available to all." What ways will you honor and celebrate?