I was asked to be involved in this project and I don’t even know what a blog is. Having asked God for ten more years to study, teach the Word, and write I could not reject this opportunity. He has heard my prayer.
I am sure most who read this know that one of the “parts” of the ministry here at the Gamerco and Hooghan Nizhoni Churches is having short term ministry teams. Those teams work on building projects and minister through VBS type events. We hope and pray that our people minister to the teams also. One of our requests is that the teams experience worship at both churches. Now the worship at Gamerco looks a lot like a church up the hollow somewhere in the Allegheny Mountains or on the corner of a corn field in Indiana. However, when a team experiences the service at Hooghan they are moved! Even though the service is much longer than Anglos are accustomed to, time does not seem to matter. Much of the service is in the Navaho language and might often come across as unorganized, unprepared, and with no nursery sometimes disruptive.
About 9 years ago Miss Toni and I felt led to allow the service at Hooghan to revert to a culturally relevant worship service, keeping our preconceived ideas and our often overpowering culture out of the mix. With no announcement, no planning (certainly an element of the Navaho culture) the bulletin quietly slipped into the waste basket while any perceived schedule did likewise. Start time, rather than a place on the clock, became when we are here, when we have greeted everyone and prayed. This old farm boy learned to watch people, listen to the spirit rather than following the clock and looking to a schedule. What I am trying to say is, our people gave me a gift, and each team receives that same gift anew when they experience worship at Hooghan Nizhoni.
Lord we repent of our inability to see the contributions of the Native American in general and the Navaho in particular in theology, music and worship. Lord we repent for not valuing those things that are not found in western culture and not encouraging our brothers to gift us with their thoughts, music, and preaching. Lord we repent, having failed to actively teach the higher and deeper aspects of God’s interaction with mankind, being content to dwell instead only on the fundamentals. While not wrong, I sometimes wonder, if the difference we see between our brothers’ thought process and our own makes us incapable of the “higher and deeper”? We repent for not providing higher education for our Navaho brothers long before this.
Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us that God will save, His hand is not shortened and that he will hear. However, our iniquities have separated us, have come between us and God. Daniel prays in 9:16 for our sins and the iniquities of our fathers. It is right and just to pray for the sins of those who have gone before (Nehemiah 9:2, Jeremiah 14:20). Even if one deems one’s self excused, the good company of Daniel, Nehemiah, and Jeremiah would require that I repent for the sins of my fathers.
Father forgive us for our spiritual and intellectual arrogance in thinking we have more to give than our Navaho Brothers. Open our minds to the ethnocentricity of western culture and education that we might be able to learn from our Native brethren. Amen