Tuesday, October 15, 2019

American History

This week, most U.S. states celebrated Columbus Day. 
At Trinity Church (as in more and more communities and states), we celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day. Two of our native American members shared some of their culture with us.
We acknowledged the sins that our European ancestors committed by stealing land, culture, religion, language, and dignity from thousands of native tribes. The Christian church proclaimed that America was their promised land, that they had the right to take it and enslave the native population.
As Christians, we need to repent from the sins of our ancestors. We need to speak the truth about the past so we can learn from it, so we can heal, and so we can prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
"Discovered? Or Stolen" is the title of a video created by the United Church of Christ, summarizing the church's role in this dark time of our nation's history:

To celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in worship we read prayers from different native tribes. We read a letter from a member of the Wakka Wakka nation in Australia:
"I recently had the privilege to visit your ancient lands. In this visit I was honored and shown hospitality on a scale I have never received in Australia. I say thank you.
As I stood barefoot and connected with your land, I was troubled. I felt the same disturbance pulse from the land as when I do this in Australia. I could feel the land was unsettled. I could hear the land weeping and screaming. I could see the land was tired. These are the deep wounds of colonization, dispossession, racism—a true history that has not been dealt with.
While I was in the U.S., I found that your Indigenous peoples, just like Indigenous peoples in Australia, somehow become invisible. How is this possible when we are not invisible to the Creator? Creator has always seen us, created in the image of God, as Creator’s appointed custodians. Invisibility is another deep wound.
The healing of deep wounds requires humbleness, prayer, and action. Are Australia and the U.S. ready to humble themselves? Ready to walk in truth, friendship, and prayer with their Indigenous brothers and sisters? Ready to challenge the “American story?"
Friends, the time is now! Too many centuries have passed; let us not let one more day pass! Our lands, waters, and all peoples need healing. Let us sit in ceremony together on these ancient lands with the healing smoke—the smoke of the burning sage that rises from your lands to the smoke of the burning (eucalyptus) gum leaves that rises from mine.
My prayer and hope for the nation of Australia is that we the peoples will build an Australia on truth, justice, love, and hope. It’s my same prayer for the world. The church in the U.S. is part of that prayer and hope."
(Source:  https://sojo.net/magazine/august-2019/letters-american-church-dear-sisters-brothers)
When we face these deep wounds that are still festering in our nation, that are now showing up in the shape of white supremacy and hatred, when we talk about them and address them openly, we can heal. We can learn, and we can grow closer together as children of God.
God says, "If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
May we humble ourselves and seek the face of God. 
God, forgive our sins and heal our land.