Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I have had the great joy to be teaching for these past three weeks at Drew Theological School. Most of the students I have are pastors and the rest are in the ordination process. They come from several denominations and locations but work together like long established colleagues. I asked the class to present on an aspect of tribal culture (I am teaching a course on Native Spirituality and Christian Ministry). Delana (who is Cherokee and married to a Creek) and Carol paired up to talk about stewardship and giving. They used a talking circle, laying down the blanket, and a give away to talk about the value of generosity and giving among Indigenous people. When they demonstrated the blanket (often folks will collect for a person who needs money for surgery, a special need, family crisis etc.) they asked the rest of the class to make a contribution for the Native youth in the Diocese of North Dakota. They gave me the money which I only looked at much later. In five minutes they had collected 200 dollars.
Giving is an essential attribute among Indigenous people. We live our lives with a generosity of spirit and with a willingness to share what ever we have with others. I was touched beyond words by my students. We, as Native Christians, walk a very fine line between culture and church, tradition and faith and many struggle to find an authentic identity within the multiplicity of expectations. But for that moment, I realized that the only identity that is important to me is generosity. Giving, from the heart, no matter where I am and no matter how challenged I feel.
May we today be generous in every thing we do, since God has been and continues to be the source of all generosity and love.