Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. Matthew 10:9-10

Columbus Day is a challenge for Native people. As a Cherokee, I don't think of my ancestors sitting around waiting to be discovered. And yet, I serve in a town with many people of Italian ancestry. There will be a parade and festivities, and although the parade and festivities are called "It's Great to Live in Harrison Day", everything resembles the Columbus Day festivities of my youth. Some people consider Columbus a hero. Native people have a hard time honoring a man who took our people home as prizes or booty. Claiming land that was occupied, Columbus was acting in ignorance (and maybe arrogance), but was also under charge from royalty. All these centuries later, one thing we can give thanks for as native people is that we have survived. We can tell our stories.

Jesus sends the disciples out in a markedly different way than Columbus was dispatched. He sent them out without anything, they were to be humble. Columbus had ships and stored food and awaited a great treasure if he came home successful. Jesus sent them out for the restoration and healing of others. Columbus was a devout Christian and yet his culture and leadership was concerned with acquiring dominance in finances and lands. Jesus asked his disciples to trust God for their food and rest.

Today, I want to give thanks for my ancestors who welcomed the first arrivals from Europe. They greeted them with peace and hospitality, as if they had heard already the direction of Jesus. And I want to give thanks for Columbus and the spirit of discovery. He was driven and fearful at the same time - as most of us are as we enter new worlds and different cultures. I pray that my responses to the new experiences I have today will be peace and welcome, generosity and curiosity. May God teach us all today to be humble hosts in a world that the Creator has graciously given us.

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