Saturday, June 16, 2012

A New Winter Count

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.Matthew 17:1-10

We had a powerful experience yesterday at Niobrara Convocation. A buffalo hide was taken out of a barrel and was revealed to have a winter count that reflected the life of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Luke. The outward spiraling circle told the story in pictures, and the artist, Cody Goodhouse, told of how, in older times, the winter counts would start in the center and spiral outward, like hair grows in a baby from the crown outward -a story that grows and expands with each experience. In more recent times, people had made winter counts spiraling from outside in, waiting for life's end. The barrel had been used by a former bishop of North Dakota who had made the people put away all of their Indian-ness and he locked their items away in the barrel. It was a powerful experience, a liberating, and transforming moment for everyone gathered. Ancient pain had been redeemed and the cord of love have been rewoven for the ages.

The story of the transfiguration is a transforming moment, when the disciples see a glimpse of the true nature of Christ and his relationship to the faithful forebears and relatives. They saw a vision of the holiness and connectedness of their experience and ministry tied as a cord of love throughout history. They had no idea what to do with their profound moment, at the time. After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, they understood more completely the gift they had received. A moment that changed everything and tied them to the past and through to the future, even to us today. We are the inheritors of their witness and carriers of the story of God's love for the world.

Today, may we all recognize that everything we do can be acts of tearing down or of rebuilding, of destroying or renewing. May our hands and hearts, our words and deeds be used this day for retying broken cords, for mending broken hoops, for binding up the wounds of the people, and setting free the people and their ways which have been crated up for too long. May our lives model the love that is given by God and which flows through us. May we honor God by our acts of love, compassion and forgiveness this day.

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