Tuesday, September 1, 2009
David Pendleton Oakerhater
He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” Luke 10:2-5
David Pendleton Oakerhater was the first American Indian saint to be added to the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints. He was Cheyenne and a warrior and was also know as Making Medicine. After one particularly awful skirmish with federal troops, Oakerhater and several others were taken captive and imprisoned in Florida. During his time in prison, he heard the Gospel and decided to follow Jesus. After his release he went to Syracuse, NY where he had some training and was ordained a deacon. He then returned to his people, the Cheyenne and served as a missionary deacon among his people until his death. He is an example to us all as he used his warrior gifts of courage and tenacity to serve God in challenging times. For me, who was in seminary when Oakerhater was made a saint, his example of faithfulness and constancy within a church structure and a society that devalued his gifts during his life time, gives me the courage to continue to serve God day after day. I only pray that I can be as faithful to God and my people as he has been.
As I begin September, I am reminded that there are challenges ahead for all of us. There is often too much to do, not enough money or volunteers and stumbling blocks in our path. God knows our challenges and our unique circumstances. He lead David Oakerhater and he leads and walks with each of us as we serve God. There is nothing we have to do alone. We can be warriors for love since God goes with us even into our biggest challenges. God lead Oakerhater and made him an example for us all. May we serve with joy this day where we have been planted, knowing God has done the planting and will make the harvest abundant. May we pray for God's love to flow through us so that we might all be warriors for love and justice.
O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, you chose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be your servant, and sent him to be a missionary to his own people, and to exercise the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to you and to the neighbors you have given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.