Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 25 though he is uneducated, God gives him words to preach, much like the prophet Jeremiah. He shares a simple message centered on John 3:16. "Those who believe," he summarizes, "will receive eternal reward, but unbelievers are thrown into a place of never-ending flames." I have taken this four-day pil- grimage not only to worship with my Navajo brothers and sisters, but also to experience how the good news of Jesus Christ is influencing their sovereign nation. As I journey, a central question guides me. It's one that Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" Who is this Christ that Presbyterians proclaim among a people whose roots go back thousands of years? Tragic legacy The answer to my question is critical, considering historic Christian aggression toward Native American cultures. On my way to the Navajo Nation, I recalled this tragic legacy through a visit to the Bosque Redondo Memorial site in New Mexico. I t is Easter morning and members of Del Muerto Presbyterian Church assemble around a roaring fire. They gather close to the edge of Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona — an ancient home of the Anasazi Indians and a historic hideout for Navajos resisting Spanish and American invaders. The morning gathering is the culmination of "SingSpiration," the congregation's three-day tent revival, which has been so successful that they ran out of mutton stew at Saturday's lunch. Now near dawn at the canyon rim, one of the worshippers plays "Amazing Grace" on the flute. The instrument's breathy notes mingle with the desert breeze. Danny Halwood, a commissioned ruling elder of the church, reads the resur- rection narrative from the Gospel of Matthew. His voice emphasizes the words of the angel, "He is not here, for he has been raised." Francis Draper, a patriarch of the church, then gives a homily. His face in the firelight is deeply weathered, his eyes shining with fierce bright- ness. Holding back tears, he says that KRIN J. VAN TATENHOVE KRIN J. VAN TATENHOVE Danny Halwood, commissioned ruling elder of Del Muerto Presbyterian Church, served as a translator for four Presbyterian pastors before heeding the call to ministry. Canyon de Chelly's iconic Spider Rock is prominent in many Navajo myths.

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