Monday, November 20, 2017

CALL TO WORSHIP FOR NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITION


CALL TO WORSHIP FROM NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITION

(FACE EAST)
L:  From the East, the direction of the rising sun, we receive peace and light and wisdom and knowledge,
P:  We are grateful for these gifts, O God,
(FACE SOUTH)
L: From the South comes warmth, guidance, and the beginning and the end of life,
P:  We are grateful for these gifts, O God,
(FACE WEST)
L:  From the West comes the rain, purifying waters, to sustain all living things,
P:  We are grateful for these gifts, O God,
(FACE NORTH)
L:  From the North comes the cold and mighty wind, the white snows, giving us strength and endurance,
P:  We are grateful for these gifts, O God,
(FACE UPWARD)
L:  From the heavens we receive darkness and light, the air of Your breath, and messages from Your winged creatures,
P:  We are grateful for these gifts, O God,
(FACE DOWNWARD)
L:  From the earth we come, and to earth we will return,
P:  We are grateful for Your creation Mother Earth, O God,
ALL:  May we walk good paths, O God, living on this earth as sisters and brothers should, rejoicing in one another’s blessing, sympathizing in one another’s sorrows, and together with You renewing the face of the earth.  Amen.

In this call to worship which we used at Oakhurst, I am reminded of how far ahead Native Americans have been of Anglos and others in regard to environmental issues.   One of the early Anglo arguments to justify the taking of land and life from Native Americans was that they let the land lie fallow and refused to develop it.   The rapacious and unchecked capitalist spirit ran over everything, including the people who lived on the land.  That spirit obviously continues and seeks to strengthen its destructive ways.   Developers in metro Atlanta destroy 50 acres of trees a day in our stunning destruction of the earth in order to get money.   As we watch the environment make a huge pivot in response to our Western-driven desire for more and more stuff, we can hear the echoes and the current calls for re-orientation and change in Native American life.  There is little doubt, except among those like Roy Moore and his ilk, that unless we change and re-orient our relationship to the earth and the environment, we will all choke and drink and eat and smash ourselves to death.   Many scientists and educated observers believe that it may be too late already.  Would that we had listened, or even now would listen, to a different cultural point of view!  No romantic, guilt-driven acknowledgment of Native American life, but rather a sense of a life-saving orientation toward humanity and toward the earth and its creatures.

            In his “Notes on the State of Virginia,” written in 1785, Thomas Jefferson ruminates on whether other cultures really have equal humanity to that of Anglos.  Not surprisingly, he does not think so.  He is fairly certain that those of African descent will never be human beings equal to Anglos, but he wonders a bit about the equality of Native Americans.  He does not believe that those who were here when the Europeans came are currently equal to the Anglos, but he opines that he does not yet have enough scientific evidence either way to say whether they ever would be.  That sense of entitlement, that sense of the ownership of equality has plagued all of us for so many centuries in the colonizing of peoples and lands by Europeans and in the struggles of the American experiment.  Perhaps it is time to recognize that if there is some group who is not “equal,” it is the Anglos, it is those who created “race” and used that idea to do all sorts of terrible things to those who were deemed outside of the circle of humanity.

So, let us all consider these proverbs from the Native American tradition, as we gather for Thanksgiving this week.

“When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”
—Cree Prophecy

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was
loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”

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