In the recent blog “Honoring Relationships”, David Anderson Hooker offered insight into the third principle of the JustPeace Way:
‘Honoring’ is both a verb and an adjective. Honoring is a verb in the sense that preserving relationship is the central principle of all our work. Giving priority to relationships reflects the reality of a triune God that operates in deep relationship as Creator, Christ, and Continuing presence. Honoring is also an adjective in the sense that the kind of relationships JustPeace encourages and seeks to establish and affirm are those that invite authentic self expression and attend to the dignity of all.
I am reminded of friends who continue to teach me about life and a way of being that honors Creator and Creation. Learning from their deep wisdom about how to “honor all our relations” – a way of being, living and learning from the sacred interconnectedness of all living creatures in Creation – has been humbling and life enriching. An invitation to walk in this way was part of a recent worship service lifting up Native American Ministries in The United Methodist Church.
Since the Act of Repentance & Healing Relationships with Indigenous Persons was held during the 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, many United Methodist Christians have been intentionally walking a path of ongoing repentance and healing with indigenous persons. During this upcoming General Conference of The United Methodist Church (May 10-20, 2016), those gathered will be invited “to remember and honor the victims of the Sand Creek Massacre [of 1864] and all who have suffered and died across many lands at the hands of Christians who brought death when they should have cared for life.” (See the Opening Words of “Remembering the Sand Creek Massacre”, page 1239 of the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate).
As Bishop Elaine Stanovsky writes, “There is no way to undo the harm done at Sand Creek. We hope that facing the truth of the past will open a path of understanding and healing among Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Methodist people.” The report offers these “urgent and haunting” questions for the Church:
- How could followers of Jesus act without care for human life and dignity?
- How does The United Methodist Church today teach followers of Jesus Christ to love and respect all people?
- How does it work to heal the generational trauma resulting from this and other acts of atrocity against Native Peoples?
With the help of the Spirit, may we be guided along ways that honor relationships, seek to listen and learn from the interrelatedness of our histories, and open up paths of understanding and healing.