Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Forty

Jesus dies.  His body is taken down from the cross, wrapped in burial linens, and placed in a tomb.  (Luke 23: 46-56)
(Adaptation of "Christmas in Whiteclay" by Frank LaMere)

Written by Frank LaMere
     His father told Him it was a forlorn and fearful place, where you could see life but no willingness to live and where ghosts beckon their relatives and the weak to leave this creation less their suffering be prolonged…
     His father told Him of grandfathers and grandmothers who had been lost and of generations to come, whose fate has been sealed by those who would watch them die slowly as they hurry away…
     His father told Him to walk among them in this season as they celebrate His being, to make them smile and let them know He has not forgotten them for even one second…
     His father bid Him go to Whiteclay and be with them as they await brothers and sisters who will care for them…
     Jesus went to Whiteclay and found all there to be freezing, beaten, dying and forsaken. Jesus cried and through his tears saw it to be the holiest of places.
     He remains there, walking among the lonely and sleeping outside, as He slept on the night He was born. Jesus is there this Christmas season, huddled by a building, waiting for someone to recognize Him, if even for one second.
     You will see Him if you wish to. He will be the most pitiful among all those gathered. He always has been, and we have always known that.
Pray for Whiteclay.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-nine

Jesus is crucified.  Darkness falls across the land.  (Luke 23: 33-44)

(Bruce BonFleur of Lakota Hope Ministry posted this reflection on his Facebook page.)

     Christ, you are the Light of the World.  Your Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not overcome it.  Help us to shine a light on Whiteclay and drive the darkness there away.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-eight

Pilate pronounces the death sentence on Jesus.  Jesus is forced to walk to Golgotha.  (Luke 23: 24-31)
Martin Pilcher and his son Dominic at the Pilcher's new grocery store, Arrowhead Foods in Whiteclay, Ne.  Photo by Josh Morgan for the Rapid City Journal.
The opening of a Native-Owned store in Whiteclay, Nebraska is seen as a sign of progress in the community.

     Christ,  thank you for this sign of progress in Whiteclay.  Help those who are trying to do something positive and life-affirming in this community.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-seven

Jesus is taken before Pilate and then Herod for questioning.  (Luke 23: 1-16)
Shawna Thornton, a teenager from Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, looks out at the sweeping views of the prairie on the reservation. She has grown up surrounded by alcohol abuse. (Photo: Nikki Kahn/'The Washington Post' )
(New school for girls opening on the Pine Ridge Reservation.)
     Christ, thank you for this sign of hope.  We pray for the staff and students of the Pine Ridge Girls' School.  Help them to make a difference in the community.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-six

Jesus is beaten and then brought before the Sanhedrin for trial.  (Luke 22: 63-71)
(Update to "Standing Silent Nation," a POV documentary about Alex White Plume's efforts to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp on reservation lands.)

     Christ, so many advocates have been beaten down by those in power that we are afraid to speak out for fear of something similar happening to us.  Give us the faith to speak your truth and lovingly rebuke those who obstruct your mission.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-five

Jesus is arrested and taken to the home of the Chief Priest.  Later that night, Jesus overhears Peter denying knowing him.  (Luke 22: 61)
(Excerpt from Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco)

     Christ, we pray for the girls on the reservation who have been traumatized by rape and incest.  Great Physician, heal them.  Reveal the truth to them-- that they deserve better; that they deserve family and friends who do not betray them; ones who will give them a stable and loving home.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-four

Judas betrays Jesus.  (Luke 22: 47)
(2014 Washington Post story of alleged sexual abuse on the reservation.  The accused was indicted by a grand jury but died in prison before his trial.)

     Christ, we pray for those who have been abused by a religious leader.  A sacred trust has been broken.  Individuals, families, and communities have been betrayed.  We grieve over the harm that has been done to the innocent.  In the lives of the perpetrators, in the lives of the betrayed, may your will be done.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-three

The disciples argue over which one of them is the greatest.  Jesus argues that greatness is shown through service.  (Luke 22:23-27)
(Fundraising video for a church mission trip with Re-Member non-profit)

     Christ, thank you for the opportunity to serve others.  Keep us humble.  Give us hope.  Show us how best to support the community's own strengths and possibilities.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-two

Jesus shares a last meal with his disciples.  He tells them that he eagerly anticipated celebrating Passover with them before his sufferings begin.  (Luke 22:15)
(Aaron Huey's 2010 TEDxDU talk)

     Christ, you generously share all that you are and all that you have.  We grab the best for ourselves, and claim that we deserve it more than others do.  Forgive us for our self-aggrandizing ways.  Save us, and train us to be your servants.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-one

Judas plots with the chief priests and the officers of the temple police.  He agrees to betray Jesus, and they agree to pay him.  (Luke 22: 3-6)
(Stephanie Schweitzer Dixon, Executive Director of the Front Porch Coalition and Amber Sam, Project Director of the Sweetgrass Project interviewed on KEVN Black Hills Fox.)

Christ, we see the horrific evidence that alcohol abuse hurts more than the body.  It hurts everyone around the alcoholic.  It unravels the fabric of a community.  It breeds despair.  It is the opposite of your will for our lives.  Enabling this to continue is a betrayal of you.  Show us how to withdraw our support from the system that keeps the alcohol flowing uncontrolled.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thrity

Jesus spends his days teaching at the Temple and his nights on the Mount of Olives.  People are getting to the Temple early in the morning so that they can listen to him teach.  (Luke 21: 37, 37)

(Data from the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission)

     Christ, our leaders know the numbers.  Why doesn't this knowledge make them care?  Lord, we don't want to be like them, people who see others suffering and whose only response is a shrugging of the shoulders, a spreading of the hands, and a hardening of the heart.  Save us from such a weak moral imagination.  Early in the morning, we seek you out.  Teach us!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-nine

Jesus breaks the bad news to his followers.  Because of their association with him, they will be betrayed by family and friends, persecuted, arrested, imprisoned, and some of them will be killed.  (Luke 21: 12-18)
(KETV-News coverage of 2013 protest at Whiteclay.)

Christ, take away our fear of retaliation.  Help us to be brave advocates for the exploited.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-eight

Jesus praises the widow for offering everything she had to God and contrasts that with the offerings of the rich.  (Luke 21: 1-4)
(Video posted by Jesse Fruhwirth from 2013 protest at Whiteclay.)

Christ, help us to see the true worth of our offerings.  If we are holding back, provoke us until we keep nothing in reserve.  May our efforts, large and small, help to further your mission.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-seven

Jesus denounces the hypocrisy of the religious scribes.  (Luke 20:46)

(Coverage of protest at the Feb. 9, 2016 NE Liquor Control Commission meeting.)

Christ, we pray for wise leaders who will effectively control activities that have the power to destroy individuals, families, and communities.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-six

Jesus outwits the religious scholars who try to entrap him with their questions.  (Luke 20: 17-33)
Ban on single-can beer sales could help Whiteclay's alcohol problem, some officials say - Nebraska

Follow-up to news story:  On Nov. 9, 2105, Sheridan County Commissioners met with State Senator Al Davis, County Attorney Jamian Simmons, Sheriff Terry Robbins and more than 30 other people to discuss public safety issues in Whiteclay.  No action was taken.

     Christ, outwit the squelchers who try to smother new ideas.  Inspire the efforts of those who establish justice for all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-five

Jesus, while teaching in the temple, tells the parable of the wicked tenants.  The religious leaders know he is talking about them, and they want to arrest him but fear the crowd,  (Luke 20: 9-19)

(An I Love Ancestry video: delegates from the Nation of Islam visit Pine Ridge.)

Christ, we don't want to end up like the wicked tenants, a group that only cares about themselves, that exploits outsiders and discards them when they are used up.  Save us and show us how to live a life that is based in respect for all.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-four

Jesus arrives at his destination amid shouts of Hosanna.  He weeps over the present and future state of the city.  His first stop is the temple where he disrupts the market set up inside the temple walls.  (Luke 19: 28-48) 
(Part of a Washington Post story, "From broken homes to a broken system")

Christ, the depth of your love for the people who will eventually reject you is amazing.  When you stick your nose into their business, it's because you want something better for them.  Fill us with your deep, abiding love.  Let it guide our involvement with others.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-three

Jesus passes through Jericho.  He tells the parable of the ten minas to illustrate what people should do with their time while they are waiting for the Kingdom of God.  (Luke 19: 11-27)
(Another episode from Hidden America)

Christ, who never fails us, forgive us when give up on ourselves and others.  We live as if the hard times smother any ability we might have to improve the situation.  We live as if outward circumstances are more powerful than inward grace.  Change the way we spend our time.  My we live in faith.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-two

Jesus, as he nears Jerusalem, again warns his disciples that he will be handed over, abused, and killed, but on the third day will rise again.  (Luke 18: 31-33)
(From Diane Sawyer's series, "Hidden America: Children of the Plains)

Christ, you knew your enemies would arrest you, and yet you kept going.  Kept moving towards your goal.  Kept teaching.  Kept healing.  Kept proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was in the midst of the people.  We admire your commitment to your mission.  Give us the inner strength to be more like you.  To persevere in the mission to which you have called us no matter what detractors might say or do.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-one

Jesus teaches about the simplicity of faith through parable and example (Luke 18: 1-17)
(Audio from 2012 protest mixed with the rap song "Poison!" by Che Christ)

Christ, you taught us to pray with humility, trust, and perseverance.  For decades, we have prayed for justice to be done in Whiteclay.  Like the widow beating upon the judge's door, we will not drop our prayer.  Like the tax collector humbly making his petition, we confess our need for your wisdom in this situation.  Like the child holding your hand, we have complete faith in you.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty

Jesus corrects his listeners' conception of the Kingdom of God by telling them that the Kingdom is already in the midst of them.  (Luke 17:21)
(Part II of Pine Ridge High School video)

Christ, you are the source of our hope.  Thank you for those who live out this vision of hope and by doing so inspire hope in others.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Nineteen

Jesus heals ten lepers.  One of them, the only foreigner in the group, comes back to give thanks to God.  (Luke 17: 18)
(Part I of interviews with students and staff at Pine Ridge High School)

Christ, thank you for being there for us.  Help us to be there for each other, especially those who suffer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Eighteen

Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony."  (Luke 16:25)
(The Oglala Tribal President describes his attempt to meet with the Governor of Nebraska to discuss the problems in Whiteclay.) 

Christ, thank you for leaders who are like you.  Those who are servants of all the people.  Who do not abuse their position for personal gain.  Who do not exploit their power in order to enrich their family and friends.  Inspire more servant leaders among us.