Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reflection on Genesis 1 and Ruth 1: Whanau Means Family

This afternoon, I was feeding the horses and taking Pieces out for a bit of a jaunt. We were walking through knee deep snow when I had the sudden urge to just drop backwards into it. I felt like I was falling into pillows; there is quite a bit of snow out here on the farm this year. While Pieces was eating snow, horse poop, and expending his pent up energy on the snow that came up to his back, I lifted myself up to my knees and became keenly aware of my surroundings. The snow on my skidoo suit, the one lone star in the dusk sky, amidst an array of blues, oranges, purples, pinks, and a hint of grey. The biting chill on my face, which happened to be the only skin exposed to the minus thirty degree weather, the pup playing in the snow, and the saliva jumping to my mouth's rescue in the freezing dry air.

I was reminded of Genesis 1 and the seven times that God saw that his creation was good. And then I thought about Ruth 1:16-17,

"But Ruth replied, 'Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."

Ruth, a woman of a different people who had a different god, stayed with Naomi and took upon herself (to what extent I have no idea) Ruth's God and Ruth's people. Naomi's worldview had to have been strikingly different from Ruth's, yet Ruth was willing to risk the way she viewed the world for the sake of this relationship.

I am now son-in-law to Terry and Bev LeBlanc, Mi'kmaq husband and wife from Restigouche; I am nephew to leaders from the Cherokee, Lakota Sioux, Cayuga, Cree, Maori, and Aboriginal peoples; brother to Mi'kmaq, Anishinabe, Maori, and Aboriginal brothers and sisters. I am still son of Martha and Jeff Lowe of Florida and brother of Allison, also in Florida. I am nephew, still, to William and Tommie Taylor of Alabama and Thomas Lowe of Florida. I am still great grandson to the 10th power of a Revolutionary War captain that sold American Indians and First Nations people into slavery. I am Dan, a man of a different people who have a very different understanding of God, and now I stay with Jeanine. I am learning what it might mean for me to take upon myself her people, though I am beginning to experience what it means to take on their understanding of Creator and creation.

And somewhere in the mix of all of that, though not with me directly, is the example of what it means to live and walk the way of Jesus together. There is no reason that any of those representatives from any of those marginalized people groups should now call me, an obvious representative of the majority culture, family, but it is because of who they are and the way that they see the world that I am welcomed. And not only am I welcomed, but so are the various other non-indigenous people in their families and circles of influence (as far, broad, and reaching as those are). I am humbled to the core of who I am when I sit in very very cold snow and realize the immensity of this fact.

This picture, this understanding of community and relationship, accountability and mutual growth, is the only antidote to the Constantinian hangover. It is through this sort of welcoming, friendship, family-making, intentional dialogue, room making, and re-sorting the seats at the table, that the Church will be transformed to the depths of the claims that the going Western voice is making. Creator has given us indigenous people because we in the West have forgotten how to see and how to hear; we no longer remember our ceremonies nor our dances, and very shortly it may be that we forget even our prayers. And we, the Western people, have been given to them in order to help them heal from the Constantinian colonialism that our ancestors forced upon their ancestors. And they invite us to do so.

When we pray that God's Spirit would give us ears to hear and eyes to see, how often do we consider that the answer to that prayer is the irrevocable transformation of our worldview? We are, in fact, asking God to help us to hear and see in a different way. It is my hope and prayer that those in current leadership in the church in the West would begin to see that God is giving us to each other so that our prayers for new ears and new eyes might very well be answered. And in there, in the mix somewhere, will be the transformation of Christ's body in our world.

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