The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Isaiah 9:2 (ASV)
As an Aboriginal person, I often wonder how my Cree-Ojibway ancestors would have received the birth of Jesus Christ had He been born into my culture so long ago. How would the birth of our Savior been received by the Aboriginal people?
If Christ had chosen to be born into a Native culture, would there have been great Chiefs following stars, coming from afar bringing gifts? Would they have brought their treasured gifts of beaver pelts and rabbit skins? Would there have been Elders of long-standing lineage who came to pay their respects in the traditional protocol?
My grandfather was a runner when he was a young man. He would run great distances through the forest from one village to the next village bearing the news of a new birth or the death of a loved one. Perhaps someone like him would have been sent to bear the Good News of the birth of Christ to many other villages.
Yet, one fact would remain steadfast, no matter which ethnic group Christ was born into, the message would hold the same. The Good News is still that Christ was born to be the Savior of the world.
Consider the following contextualized Christmas song:
T’was in the moon of wintertime, when all the birds had fled
That Mighty Gitchie-Manitou*, sent angels choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim, and wandering hunters hear the hymn:
Jesus your king is born, Jesus is born; In Excelsis, Gloria!
Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
the angels song rang loud and high:
Oh, Children of the forest free, oh, sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of heaven and earth is born today for you,
Come kneel before the radiant boy,
who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
Dear Father in Heaven, regardless of our ethnic backgrounds or culture, may we joyfully draw our hearts to the One who came to save us this Christmas Eve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
*Gitchie-Manitou means God in the Creelanguage.