Monday, June 7, 2010

O Woman, Great is your faith!

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28

Robert Warrior, a contemporary Native theologian writes about the challenge for Indigenous people in the Americas as that we were seen as the Canaanites, the ones who God drove out of the land and killed so that the chosen people could have a "land flowing with milk and honey." Canaanites were the first people of the land and were treated with scorn by the Israelites. They were the conquered locals who were less than equals. And yet, I have found, in my life, great women of faith among Native people. Despite historically horrible behavior by governments and individuals, I have been witness to a tremendous amount of faith among Native women. My mother, for one, prays constantly for her family and for all the people in her life - her extended family and her tribe. She taught me to pray and urges me to pray in every circumstance. And I have been privileged to work with and learn from great Native women in the Episcopal Church including Dr. Owanah Anderson, the Rev. Dr. Carol Hampton, Canon Anna Frank, Canon Ginny Doctor, and Reynelda James, to name just a few. Despite all of the challenges faced in their lives, they pray and push for the full inclusion of Native people in our church. And they spent time teaching and raising up others. I am blessed by their great faith and have been molded and encouraged by it.

Today, I want to give thanks for the people of great faith in my life. For my parents, who brought me up in the church and challenged me to grow in faith. For my mentors, who challenged me to live into my potential and to be a faithful and humble leader at all times. I pray that we can all be persistent in our faith today, knowing that God's love is broader than our divisions of tribe and race. May we be fiercely faithful, willing to reach beyond our human boarders to break forth the love of God.

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