Weekly Devotion & Prayer - November 21, 2022


Weekly Devotion for November 21, 2022
By Tusker Yang


Giving Thanks to God and Our Native Americans

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus[a] there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.  And the people stood by watching, but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”  One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding[e] him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah?[f] Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:33-43)

This month is Native American Heritage Month.  On Monday, November 14, Bishop Jung, Rev. Sue D’Alessio, Rev. Amanda Stein, and many other pastors, together with Rev. Mark Fowler and the First UMC in downtown Madison, with the Mayor of Madison and other dignitaries, gathered to give a ceremony of landmark acknowledgement to the Ho Chunk Nation (watch story here).  The importance of this ceremony was not daunted on me until I watched the special edition of the NBC Nightly News (The Reckoning: Native American Boarding Schools’ Painful History Unearthed, can be seen on here) about how the church had been tainted with the policy of genocide to the many Native American nations through the boarding schools.  I can’t imagine what happened but to ask God for forgiveness, for the church.
This week is Thanksgiving week.  How can I give thanks to God and what can I be thankful for?  I would thank God and the Native Americans for this land, acknowledging the painful story of American history, and the need of reparation for the native people.  But acknowledgment or asking to be forgiven is not enough.  We must move to give thanks to them this November and every November, and to strengthen the native people in this generation such as an example being done by the First UMC in Madison to establish a scholarship for Native American students.
We thank God for God’s forgiveness upon us this Thanksgiving.  And this we are thankful, not only for the forgiveness for the pain and sin this nation had caused to the native people, but our own sins and deficiency.  As I imagine what had happened at the cross the day Jesus died for the world, all people were against God… the crowd/people, the priests, the soldiers, the kings, the leaders and governments of the days, even the criminal, and the disciples (at least two that we know).  This is everyone, isn’t it? Jesus could have used his power and wiped off every sinner out of this earth.  Instead, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Knowing we are forgiven is truly a real Thanksgiving celebration.
We pray to you, O God, to forgive us our sins this Thanksgiving.  We all have sinned and fallen short of your glory.  We give you thanks for your abundant grace and provision we have received, and for the native people of this land, and for your forgiveness of our sins, known and unknow, that we may be made perfect in you.  We praise you and give you thanks this day.  Amen.