Monday, November 30, 2015

He Will Come Again

Tonight as I was bicycling I heard a sound that reminded me of "Amazing Grace", and recalling the hymn ministered to me in a way I've needed recently. I sang it a little to myself in English, which is a little rare recently because I've liked to sing it in Cherokee, which is beautiful. But tonight I needed the English words.

The Cherokee words are almost completely different from the original words to the song. John Newton's words speak mostly of how God gave him grace after he had lived a life of sin (working on a slave ship), and I've always loved that meaning.

The Cherokee words (by Dr. Samuel A. Worcester & Elias Boudinot) mention that Jesus paid for our sins (and I burnt them onto a wooden cross my mother gave me, and will keep it as part of my regalia), but that's just the first two lines. The rest of the lyrics are about Jesus going to heaven, promising to come again, and saying He will take the righteous home with Him.

Honestly, although I look forward to Him returning, I didn't find that as inspiring as what He did on the Cross and the amazing grace He gave us in that unsurpassable act of love. Additionally, in the last ten or so years I've focused more on praying for His healing to come to wounded hearts on earth *now*, bringing reconciliation and life in the darkness we all experience today (instead of just someday in the future).

This is particularly true since I began to learn more about indigenous spirituality, the goodness of His Creation, and as I refocused on how Christ is coming not to take us away from the earth, but to renew it into the eternal home He intended it to be for us and all living things.

Tonight on my bicycle after the English words of the song ministered to my heart, I thought of the Cherokee words again. Cherokees say that the song is basically the national anthem of the Cherokee Nation. It holds a special place in the hearts of the Western Cherokee because their ancestors sang it while walking on the "trail of tears" (or as they call it, "the trail where they cried").

I've wondered at that a little, since I like the English words so much and the Cherokee words are totally different. I thought it was just because of the history of it being sung during the removal as they cried and buried relatives by the roadsides.

But tonight a thought came to me and filled my spirit and moved my heart— that the *words* of the song spoke strongly to the hearts, griefs, and hopes of the Cherokee ancestors:


Un ne la nv hi u we tsi (God's Son)
i ga gu yv he i (paid for us)
hna quo tso sv wi yu lo se (Now to heaven He went)
i ga gu yv ho nv (after paying for us)

Even though we are being mistreated like we are worth nothing, Creator loves us and purchased us. Then He went to heaven...

a se no i u ne tse i (Then He spoke)
i yu no du le nv (when He rose)
ta li ne dv tsi lu tsi li (I'll come the second time)
u dv ne u ne tsv (He said when He spoke)

He arose after suffering and dying, and even though we are suffering and dying, He hasn't left us, because He promised that He would come back again...

e lo ni gv ni li s qua di (All the world will end)
ga lu tsv ha i yu (when He returns)
ni ga di da ye di go i (We will all see Him)
a ni e lo hi gv (here the world over)

When He returns all of this injustice in the world will end. We and the whole world will see Him and His justice...

u na da nv ti a ne hv (The righteous who live)
do da ya nv hi li (He will come after)
tso sv hna quo ni go hi lv (In heaven now always)
do hi wa ne he s di (in peace they will live)

He will come back for us, and all who haven't done anything wrong but have been oppressed. He will take us to heaven—to a new home—where we will live in peace, where we won't be oppressed anymore and no one can take our homes away from us.


I can't fully capture what I felt in my spirit, but the words in italics are as close as I can express what moves me so deeply.

I think also that there was a clear connection the Cherokee ancestors felt as they walked through suffering and tears to a new home, a "promised land" they were told would be theirs forever and where they hoped they could live in peace.

Sadly, of course, that was not to be since the greed of America was insatiable, and their "promised land" would later be whittled down, "allocated" and sold to white settlers. But still the song is sung and resonates in the hearts of Cherokees today.

I pray for that hope to stay deep in their hearts, and in the hearts of all indigenous peoples who have suffered because of colonization, that just as He suffered, died, and rose again, so will they.


Update— poem from December 2, 2015:


Forced to leave home
Marched through the cold
Dying along the trail
Crying along the way

Treated like unwanted cattle
Herded and driven far away
As if we are worth nothing
But we sing through our tears:

U-ne-la-nv-hi U-hwe-tsi
"Creator's Son paid for us"
So we are precious to Him

He suffered and died for us
And He rose up again
He hasn't left us
But said He will return

And when He does
All the world will end
And all of our pain and suffering
And we will rise like He did

He will come back for us
He will take us to our new home
He will restore what was lost
And we will live in undisturbed peace

Then there will be justice
For all who have been oppressed
He will wipe away every tear
That we cried on this trail

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