Sunday, July 28 2019
"The irony of the recent national debate over who should stay in this country as a real American is not lost on those of us who were always here. It would be easy to make the joke that we Native Americans gather secretly at an undisclosed location on the reservation, bring out the drum, and begin chanting: send them home. That's funny because it illustrates the historical fact that no person of European ancestry can claim to be an owner of this land except by right of conquest (which is what this recent spectacle is really all about). It is not about who is a real American, since only a handful of us can make that claim legitimately, but about who dominates, who has the power. It is about control as much as it is about color. The same tragic need to exercise power over others through racism that fueled white colonialism is still alive and well and seeking to control everything around it. That is what we, as indigenous people, would like to see go away: that sad need to control rather than to share. So if you want a Native American view on the recent situation, here it is: you all can stay, but let racism and injustice be banished from our midst once and for all. That is what is un-American."
I was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a Native American Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston. I enjoy reading Bishop Charleston’s weekly meditations because he speaks the truth in an easy to understand way. This week, his lesson speaks to racism and injustice in America. It might be a little off putting at first, but before you shift to your political pole, I ask you to not only listen to what he said, but allow the truth of what he said to change your heart. This is the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We pray that we might hear the truth and change our hearts to align with God’s plan for humanity. Jesus teaches us that through self-sacrifice we can bring the world to the Kingdom of God. Jesus gave his life for our sins that we might be forgiven of our sins (and the sins of our ancestors).
In today’s meditation, Bishop Charleston forgives the trespasses of the white European colonists, but does not forgive the controlling, self-indulgent behavior that is fueled by racism and is still causing injustice in our nation. We are called in the Gospel of Luke to question cultural norms, to break boundaries, and to change our heart to the love of God. The past few weeks Jesus has taught us to love our neighbor, taught us who our neighbor is, and asks us to pray and listen to the Word of God. In this week’s lesson, Jesus is teaching us to pray to God for what we need. I believe that if racism and injustice are ever to be banished in this nation, we need to pray that we might have the love, mercy, and compassion of God. My prayer is that the Gospel will move our hearts to the truth and that each of us is willing to change.
Last week I read the book, White Fragility and I was shocked that the author blamed white progressives for the racism that exists in our nation. I thought progressives were the ones wanting to make change, but the author said that without structural change, racism will continue. Words alone are simply not enough. Structural change will only come when we understand the deep injustice that exists in our world and when we are willing to change it.
I sometimes get the feeling that nothing can change the political divide, the racism, and the injustice that exists in our nation. But today’s Gospel tells us that we must pray to God with all our hearts, with determination, and with persistence. God answers our prayers, beginning with our own hearts if we are willing to change. Will you pray with me, listen to the Gospel, and be open to change?
In Christ’s love,