Today at noon, I want to invite you to stop whatever you are doing and pray with thousands of Episcopalians all over the United States for the tribes at Standing Rock.
Meanwhile reflect with me on this Old Testament story . . .
Abraham, the ancient elder, was not always a man of strong character. In the beginning, he would get scared and make stupid, selfish decisions – like offering his wife to the King in order to protect himself from harm. Or, in this case, sending his own son away to make his wife (who was not the child’s mother) happy . . .
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar (the mother of his son), putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.
BUT God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him!”
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. (Gen 21:14-20 NRS)
The Native Tribes who have gathered to protect the water at Standing Rock are an awful lot like Hagar and her son. The birthright that was rightfully theirs was taken away by people of very weak character. The Native Tribes were sent away, like Abraham’s son, to reservations on land that no one else wanted — the wilderness! But on that land the Creator loved them deeply and gave them water. They have proven that they are a great nation for they act in love and peace even now in the face of horrible oppression.
It is time for us to honor our promises to the tribes, to hear their voices, and to join with them to protect the water. Hear the Creator calling out to us to join them: Come, lift them up and hold them fast with your hand!!!
I pray the Creator’s protection over them. I pray for justice. I pray this in the name of Jesus, the one who can heal our hearts and make rivers of living water flow from them!
Check out April’s Books, the Disorderly Parable Bible Studies, for group and individual study.