Pastor’s Corner – November 19, 2023

Refusal to Participate in Empire Building 

Matthew 25:14-30

There are two things on my mind for this coming week. First is the Thanksgiving Holiday. Safe travels for those who will be traveling to be closer to family and friends to celebrate a season of gratitude, with people you love around the table to give thanks for the blessings. While we can celebrate and trace universal value in setting aside a day for thanksgiving across cultures and nations, our Thanksgiving Holiday has an ambivalent history. We need to be mindful and decolonize the dominant story of “friendly” English settlers with Wampanoag Native Americans celebrating a thanksgiving meal. We know what followed were massacres of Natives like the Pequot tribe. It’s important to know that for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest. Annually they gather at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth for an organized rally and day of mourning on Thanksgiving. At this site, there is an engraving on a stone that says: 

“Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”

I want to remind you that the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, is Native American Heritage Day!

Second, what is on my mind is the gospel story of the talents. We know this popular parable. There is a master and three slaves who were entrusted with talents to be invested during the master’s absence. The slave given five talents and the slave given two talents each doubled their investment. The slave given one talent buried it and returned what was given. The master’s accounting brings judgment, takes away the one talent and gives it to the most profitable slave and throws the one who refused to participate in the master’s illicit business practice, out into “outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

It’s easy to overlook the dominant narrative and interpretations of what is presented to us, whether it’s a gospel story or stories we hear without critical understanding and questioning why we do what we do and how stories are told. As we give thanks during Thanksgiving, also remember Native Americans and their side of the story. Let us also remember that it’s not all as it seems. There is more to the story, even the parable of talents. It’s a story of resistance and Jesus’ way of telling the story of the end time when those who speak truth to power will be cast out. As we ponder the stories that are before us during this time of the season, may God grant us wisdom and courage, to deepen our commitment to follow the way of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Pastor Dae