Like many of you, I’ve been following developments in the struggle of Native Americans protestors, also known as Water Protectors, to peacefully resist the building of the North Dakota Access Pipeline through their lands. They have been trying to protect the water from the contamination that pipeline spills bring with them, and to keep the pipeline from desecrating their sacred burial sites and lands.
They have been met with violence, though they have committed no violent acts. They have been seeking help from the government, and people in their struggle. And, they have received help. Most recently, 2000+ veterans of the Armed Forces in our nation have made their way out to Standing Rock, the site of the protests, to help protect the vulnerable Native Water Protectors. I am a veteran, and know one person who was going to go out to participate. After getting information from her, I was privileged to be able to round up some donations and meet with someone so that these supplies could go out to Standing Rock. Being able to do just that one small thing brought me a great amount of joy. It was a significant act for me, because I felt compelled, as I was praying about this situation, to donate my late daughter’s wool poncho to the cause. This is an item that my girl, Amber, wore most of her life because she was wheelchair bound and it was a good way to add warmth since traditional coats were often too bulky to fit her in her chair. My mom got it for her in Mexico. She was wearing it when we took her into the ER the night/day that she passed away. I held onto it for these few years since her death because it felt like I was holding on to her. It was a sacred reminder of Amber’s presence in my life. But, it was now time to let it go, and let it be used for something better than sitting on a shelf. I know that Amber would approve.
Just a few moments ago, I read a story about the veterans at Standing Rock, kneeling before an officer of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and asking for forgiveness for war crimes and genocide committed against native tribes by the U.S. military. What a moment! What a moment of pure godliness. To me, it is a glimpse at what the Kingdom of God should look like – repentance, as John the Baptist preached in the wilderness. The kingdom of God is near, when there is this sort of humble spirit, asking for forgiveness and bearing the fruit of real involvement to try to change the world for the better. The offer of forgiveness was accepted by the tribes there, and then the tribes asked for forgiveness for any hurt caused by the Great Sioux Nation’s victory over the 7th Cavalry.
The entire article can be found here, and it is amazing.
Veterans at Standing rock shock tribe members
Out of the struggle, out of the ugliness that has been thrown at people who just want to protect their homes, comes beauty. The pinnacle of this event came, IMO, when all who were there, veterans and tribe members, joined in crying out for “World Peace!” Yes, Lord, we cry for peace in this world.
Sometimes, the people who claim they stand for the Kingdom of God look a lot less like Jesus than the people who don’t claim it, but show by their actions that they understand what the kingdom should look like. It should look like this – a place where people are brothers and sisters even though they may have different ethnic, religious or national backgrounds. We are all one in God’s kingdom, where there is neither man nor woman, Jew nor Greek nor slave or free. In the kingdom of God, nobody is an illegal immigrant. All are welcome. In the kingdom, nobody wants to take away another’s right to life or happiness even if it means lining their own pockets. In the kingdom of God, the Earth is respected and cared for. In the Kingdom, there are no political parties and no jockeying for power over others. Because in the kingdom, the last shall be first, the master is the servant, and Jesus’ face is found in the least of these. There are no enemies in the kingdom, only people who are loved.
Thank you, veterans, for your fine example of what true heroism looks like. Thank you, for showing the world what America should stand for (or kneel for)- for righteousness, for justice and a quest for peace. I have never been more proud to be a veteran than I am now. God bless this nation, in the face of what many (and I am one) see as an impending federal government focused on money, power and self protection. May we work together to show those who have lost their way, that there is a better road to travel. We travel the road of peace toward the kingdom of Heaven. We travel with the Prince of Peace, whose grace rains down upon all people, even the ones we might not approve of. Let’s work to make this kingdom of God shine brighter than any nation ruled by greed, or corruption. May we stand, with love in our hearts, hand in hand with our brothers and sisters, to stand up for their rights, peacefully, but, truly. Let us not grow weary in doing GOOD. Let us remember what goodness really is, by looking at the life of Christ, and his death. Make a way for him this Christmas, by throwing off the dead works of darkness and shining together for something better.