A Special Thanksgiving Letter

"And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth." Isaiah 12:4,5

Greetings to all in this season of giving thanks!

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let his name be known in all the earth!

Today is our national day of giving thanks. People will travel near and far to spend the day with family and friends and repeat time-honored traditions that have been passed from generation to generation. For some, the day will be about food and football. To others, it will be about family and friends. And some will see it as the kickoff to the long-awaited Christmas season. 

As you look around, the symbols of the day will be everywhere...decorations filled with images of turkeys, Pilgrims and... of course Indians. 

Sadly, few will go to church to worship the Author, Perfector, and Giver of all things. They will simply be too busy!

As a Native American, I hear the back and forth arguments for and against the celebration of Thanksgiving. The dominant culture has put its indelible stamp on the day, its history, and its meaning. The Native Americans in the story are often portrayed as willing dupes or props. Historically, we were heathen participants in what has become a pseudo-Christian story of thanks for Divine deliverance.

Today, because it seems that our dominant culture brothers and sisters have forgotten the reason for this day, it is somewhat understandable that our Native American brothers and sisters are increasingly confused as to why they should continue to robotically play along in the footsteps of the Wampanoag tribe and join in this celebration of the day. 

If the first Thanksgiving was the church's first potluck or potlatch supper and subsequent outreach to Native Americans...it failed as surely as the church has failed in its evangelistic efforts for the past 500 years. 

We weren't worshipping the same God on that day and sadly, today, for many Native Americans that has not changed.

This is the reason that the work that we do as Lutheran Indian Ministries is so important. 

Our mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, disciple Native people and train them to make disciples, and provide a bridge to heal the effects and impacts of 500 years of failed evangelism has never been more relevant or critical.

Native people need to know that every day is a day of giving thanks not just for food or clothing or stuff that He surely provides for us, but because they are uniquely made by a loving Creator who sent his Son to die for them because sin knows no race, color, creed or culture. All are guilty. And they need to know that this same Creator has prepared a place for them in Heaven on the day of restoration when those who are His children will be called to Him.

We must be bold and relentless in delivering this message.

As His disciples, we have been called to sing praises to the Lord and make his name known to everyone. Including and especially Native American peoples.

Thank you for answering His call!

I am so thankful for you. I am thankful for the hard work that you do every day. I am thankful that God has called you to this ministry in some capacity; as a board member, as a humble servant, as a missionary, as a volunteer, as a donor, as a spiritual advisor, as a friend.  I am thankful that He has seen fit to give you a heart for ministry to Native American peoples and that you have graciously and faithfully given of your time, talents and gifts so that we may fulfill His purpose for this ministry.

What a joy and a blessing to stand beside you and engage in this worthy battle of spiritual warfare. To be used by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring His message of redemption and forgiveness to God Native American children is something that humbles me and gives me great joy.

As you remember Lutheran Indian Ministries in your prayers, give thanks to God for this ministry and for the amazing things that He is doing and will continue to do in and through you for Native people.

Let us continue to fearlessly and faithfully follow His call and give thanks every day for the victories both large and small that he delivers to us each and every day.

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:15-17

May God bless each of you with a joyful day of giving thanks.

In Him,
Tim Young Eagle (Pawnee)
Executive Director, Lutheran Indian Ministries