In the summer of 2017, my family and I drove down a lonely road in South Dakota. We were on our way to the Standing Rock Reservation to film a native Pow Wow. But I was anxious… because we did not have permission to record the event. And, in order to get permission, we needed to speak to a tribal elder. We reached the site an hour early to allow plenty of time. As we waited for the elder to arrive, I wondered if we would be accepted or rejected. My fear was heightened by the fact that white visitors are not always warmly received on reservations, given the historic treatment of natives on this land.
As it turned out, the elder was female, and spoke only to my wife. After Mariellyn met with her for a few minutes, she returned with permission to stay and film. We were very excited, and spent the rest of the day recording the Pow Wow, which included dancers of all ages. We even got to interview a 17-year-old dancer, who spoke to the power of traditional dances.
During this experience, I was struck by how much respect the native Sioux hold for their elders. On the reservation, elder members of the tribe were treated with a special reverence, as younger leaders sought the advice of the people who had been around the block a few more times than they had.
This deference was interesting to me; because, in the wider American culture, elders are seldom given such a deep respect. In fact, today it is often considered offensive to call someone “old” or “elderly.” Instead of revering people who have an abundance of experience and wisdom, our culture is quick to push older members to the sideline in a constant celebration of youth. So, this January, we are going to look at Bible teachings on how to treat the generations who have gone before us, the wisdom that comes from experience, and the significance of how younger generations should treat Tribal Elders.
January Worship: One Month to Welcome
Center Your Life around Hospitality…
- Bible Readings
- 1/5 Leviticus 19:32-37
- 1/12 Exodus 20:1-17
- 1/19 Deuteronomy 32:1-7
- 1/26 Job 12:1-12
- #Set the Table
- Prayer for Hospitality
Lord, let us set the table for our loved ones; let us set the table for our friends; let us set the table for our enemies; and, let all people feel welcome at our table. Amen.
- Love Feast
- Sunday, January 26, 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall
Ryan began his pastoral ministry at Maize Manor United Methodist Church in 2014 after serving at the Church of the Messiah in Westerville, Ohio. He lives in Columbus with his wife, Mariellyn, and five children. Visit the Staff Page to learn more about Pastor Ryan.