OPENING PRAYER: Loss is Indeed our Gain (Walter Brueggemann)
The Pushing and Shoving in the world is endless.
We are pushed and shoved.
And we do our share of pushing and shoving
in our great anxiety.
And in the middle of that
you have set down your beloved suffering son
who was like a sheep led to slaughter
who opened not his mouth.
We seem not able,
so we ask you to create space in our life
where we may ponder his suffering
and your summons for us to suffer with him,
suspecting that suffering is the only way to newness.
So we pray for your church in these Lenten days,
when we are driven to denial —
not to notice the suffering,
not to engage it,
not to acknowledge it.
So be that way of truth among us
that we should not deceive ourselves
That we shall see that loss is indeed our gain.
We give you thanks for that mystery from which we live.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: April 5, 1795
Throughout the 18th century, the Spanish empire considered it a religious duty to reduce heathenism and to convert native peoples to the virtues of Catholicism. Consequently, it selected the Franciscan order to establish the missions of Alta California. With the establishments of Missions such as Mission Santa Clara, Mission Dolores, and Mission San Jose in the late 1700s, a large wave of Muwekma Ohlone, who were flourishing in those areas at the time, were taken into Spanish missionary outposts.
When the Ohlone arrived at these missions, many were urged into baptism and thereby stripped of power and agency, as the padres viewed baptism as an act of submission to their leadership and their will. Many Ohlone were detained and punished for trying to escape, and were also shackled and whipped to discourage future thoughts of escape. Women were locked inside cramped buildings and forced into spinning, weaving, and sewing to make cloth, while the men were forced into grueling agricultural work. The Ohlone were also forced to learn a new language, religion, morals, and etiquette while being restricted rom speaking their native language and expressing Ohlone customs.
Between November 1794 and May 1795, this migration caused horrible, epidemics, food shortages, and forced conversion, which devastated the community. An estimated 81,000 “conversions” occurred during this time, paired with an estimated 65,000 deaths of among the Ohlone tribe. The cause of death varied, but European diseases such as smallpox, measles, and diphteria, drastic diet changes, harsh lifestyle shifts, and unsanitary living conditions all contributed to the widespread losses among the Ohlone people while living life in these missions.
With the end of the mission era came other problems, as the Ohlone not only lost their heritage but were eventually forced off tribal lands and stripped of tribal status by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was not until the Fall of 2000 that the Muwekma Ohlone tribe was officially recognized by the state of California, and not until September 2002 that the Bureau of Indian Affairs confirmed it as a federally recognized tribe.
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: JEREMIAH 17:9-11
“The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”
11 Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay
are those who gain riches by unjust means.
When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them,
and in the end they will prove to be fools.
RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day36
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: The Lord’s Prayer: Native American version (Hattie Corbett Enos, Nez Perce tribe, 1995)
“O Great Spirit, Creator of the universe, You are our Shepherd Chief in the most high place, whose home is everywhere, even beyond the stars and moon. Whatever you want done, let it, also be done everywhere. Give us your gift of bread day by day. Forgive us our wrongs as we forgive those who wrong us. Take us away from wrong doings. Free us from all evil. For everything belongs to you. Let your power and glory shine forever.”
-Fom Gifts of Many Cultures (ed. Maren C. Tirabassi and Kathy Wonson Eddy)