Today as Americans we celebrate Columbus Day, remembering the day in 1492 that an explorer from Genoa arrived in the New World, making landfall in what is now known as the Bahamas. The Day was established as a national holiday in 1934, though it had been celebrated throughout the Americas before the official proclamation.
It happened to be my turn yesterday to lead the congregational prayer in our Sunday worship liturgy, a task the church elders share. Most of that prayer is naturally concerned with various requests and thanksgiving centered in our life together as a congregation. At the conclusion we recite the Lord’s Prayer, a ritual I had been raised to believe was unbiblical. Now few parts of the service are more meaningful to me than this unison prayer, knowing that as I pray my voice blends with untold crowds of believers across time to echo Christ’s words before a listening Father. An expression of unity rooted in the word of God, spoken in faith before God. My mention of Columbus Day, however has wider application and so I extract my words here, as part of my prayer this day:
This weekend we celebrate Columbus Day as a nation—as we celebrate it may it help us remember. May we remember to give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy when so much of the world languishes under various forms of tyranny and oppression. May those who place themselves in harms way, whether soldiers, police, or firefighters, know of our support and gratitude. May Columbus Day also remind us of the sad legacy of injustice and broken promises that has characterized our government’s treatment of Native Americans. We regret that legacy, and ask you to help us as your people to promote policies and attitudes that treat others who are not like us with justice and dignity and generosity.
For Christ’s sake and in his Name.