Celebration tinged with regret  

Posted by Denis Haack in ,

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.

This entry was posted at Monday, October 11, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Thanks, Denis! I posted the prayer on my facebook page... we all need to be reminded to pray in such a way! For Christ's sake, and in His name... forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...

October 11, 2010 at 9:42 AM

For many years, rumor had it that I was a First Nations person. Having lived among them for the first few years of my life, I came to deeply love and respect the first people of this land. I, however, am not First Nations (although my very dark hair and eyes added to the illusion). I have sometimes wished I were. There are so many things I wish "us whites" could learn from them. I fail to find words to describe the beauty I've known there. I won't try; I would do my most faithful friends injustice. What I do wish to address is the small glimpse into prejudice that I had when the whites around me assumed that I was First Nations. I was, quite frankly, treated with disdain. I recently saw another First Nations lady treated like dirt in a coffee line-up and the next customer was graced with smiles and light-hearted interaction. I was incensed. We can't change the past, but we can take the time to learn from them and at the very least treat every human as though he or she is an equal - because we ARE equal!

October 12, 2010 at 12:33 AM

Appreciate your kind thoughts. Like you say, we need humility and I find that a hard virtue. It is easier to let hard things fade into the background.

October 12, 2010 at 8:56 AM

24/7 Mom:
I am so sorry for the disdain you have experienced--an evil that continues in so many ways, sadly.

For 12 years we lived in New Mexico and grew to love the mingled population there: Mexican American, Native American, and white. Diversity is a richness, though just like any marriage is a relationship that must be maintained with tender care. As a staff worker with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for part of that time I worked with Tony Begay, a Navajo minister in the Christian Reformed Church. I was young, practical, efficient. Time with Tony was always in the moment, relational, unhurried. My conversation was to the point, Tony's was relational and thoughtful. I was the "supervisor" and I learned far more from him than he did from me.

October 12, 2010 at 9:05 AM

dennis, have you ever read shakespeare's "the tempest" in light of our western nationalistic/celebratory bent? i gain so much perspective from that text in my struggles with nationalism and conquest. to think that shakespeare was writing that in the midst of the "new world" milieu...very provocative.

October 18, 2010 at 2:48 PM

No, I have not, and should, and am not surprised Shakespeare could speak so eloquently to one more aspect of human existence. Amazing writer and thinker, with a worldview firmly rooted in reality.

October 19, 2010 at 2:14 PM


I am just now getting to read this entry. I like this prayer. This is a little off topic but the timing of my reading of this is appropriate I think considering the weekend that is approaching - celebration of the Reformation. I have been thinking much about this and I think something like your prayer ought to be prayed in a reformation celebration service as well. While we can praise God for the great truths recovered by the Reformation and the fight against idolatry and the church's abuse of power, we ought also to lament the great cost - the lives lost and arguably the largest schism the church has ever known.

October 29, 2010 at 1:00 AM

I agree.
As a man of the Reformation, committed to the great historic orthodox doctrines that the Reformers recovered, I confess I am by conviction a Protestant. And I find heroism in the history of that period. Yet the divisions that resulted, especially over the following centuries as Reformed and Lutheran scholasticism began splitting smaller and smaller hairs is just a tragedy.
I feel gratitude and regret.

October 29, 2010 at 9:18 AM


Oops, I meant to sign my name instead of being just anonymous. Sorry about that. How stalker-esque of me

Nathan C.

October 29, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Post a Comment