Dear Friends in Christ,
You may (or may not) recall the request that came from our siblings in the American Indian/Alaska Native Association of the ELCA (AIAN) last July to hang orange banners in our churches to honor and remember the lives of the children who were lost to the boarding school system in our nation and who hopefully will be returned home as their bodies are rediscovered. Here is the link to that request, as well as my letter and video lifting up that request.
In that request, the AIAN asked that we hang these orange banners for 225 days, remembering the 225 bodies of children that had been discovered in Canada and the U.S. at that time. Those 225 days have passed and yet the remembering and honoring continues. But even as we remember and honor, we are called to continue our confession and change of life (repentance) in the face of the suffering that those actions caused not just to those children stolen from their families but also the long-term consequences for their descendants that are perpetuated even today.
By partnering with our Indigenous neighbors and living with them as equals, how can we work with them to seek justice and make their lives better in the ways they wish and hope for? How can we continue to learn more about the truth of the past even as we seek to find ways to rectify the painful consequences of that history and also join the Indigenous peoples in building new and more sacred relationships? In other words, how can we become better neighbors as Jesus calls us to be neighbors, loving our fellow human beings as much as (or even more than) we love ourselves as the Samaritan did in Jesus’ famous parable?
So today, I remind you to remember and invite you to lift up those orange banners again, perhaps putting them in a new location, and to honor the children of God those banners represent and the families they left behind. And then reflect anew on how we can learn from the past, including our past sins, to make amends on behalf of those who are not here to do it for themselves. As I stated in July, “We as followers of Christ have the faith to confess our sins in the love and grace of God in Christ. But at the same time, through those same words of love and grace from God, we also hear God’s ongoing call to enter into the light of the truth of our history and our present, and to love our neighbors who are suffering.
Blessings to you this week as you explore ways to be Christ-like neighbors through your love!
Bishop Laurie Jungling
Elected June 1, 2019, Laurie is the 5th Bishop of the Montana Synod