March 24, 2018

By Rev. Gregory Douglass, Native American UMC of Southern California & Native American Fellowship (Circle of Life) Los Angeles, West District

Revelation 19:6-7

Then, I heard what seemed to be a voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give God the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and the bride has made herself ready.”

As we come to the end of this Lenten season, we likely have experienced a sense of waiting through these 40 days, plus six Sundays. Life is like that. We have great periods of waiting. We wait for news from a job or school application. As children, maybe we voiced the words of impatient waiting, so often heard from a backseat, “Are we there yet?”

Many Native American peoples associate our waiting periods with Winter. This is our time for reflection. It is our time for renewal. During this waiting period it is wise to ask “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?” When this time of reflection is taken seriously, a time of revelation comes, time for a new life, and then a time for celebration.

In Revelation 19:6-7, this time of celebration is symbolized by a wedding. The waiting time is over, a new life has begun, the time of celebration, of ceremony, is here. Among many tribes, the wedding is a time of great celebration, ceremony, dancing, and feasting. In Cherokee tradition, the two coming for marriage are each wrapped in a blue blanket. At the close of the ceremony the blue blanket is removed and together they are wrapped in a white blanket, symbolizing their new life.

The waiting is over, the celebration begins! The women will dance with their shell shakers in a circle, raising a great noise. The men will dance and sing, raising a great stomping sound so all can join in the celebration. The whole community, all the clans will gather to celebrate this new life, this new beginning. After all, it isn’t just a new life for the couple, it is a new beginning, a continuing, for the people.

As Resurrection Sunday, Easter, approaches we may be looking forward to some celebrating. Maybe we have a potluck planned at church, or a community meal in the works. Maybe it will be a family gathering following our time of worship. Let’s pause for a moment though and ask “Will this be a time of ceremony, celebrating new life, a new beginning?” In Christ, we have the opportunity for renewal through all our seasons.

Has this year been a Winter for you? Is there something you are waiting for? Are you asking “who am I” or “where am I going?” It may just be time to sing along with the Rev. Charles Wesley, “Spirit of faith come down, reveal the things of God…” Make yourself ready for the celebration. New life is coming. Make some noise!

Prayer: Great One, we have been waiting for you; some of us through many Winters. Help us be ready for celebration. A new life with the Risen One! Amen.