Advent with Black Elk: A Modern-Day Magnificat


Chapter 6: High Horse’s Courting

In this chapter, Black Elk describes the universal human experiences of young love, infatuation and courting. He talks about seeing a young girl that looks so beautiful that a young man starts to feel sick whenever he thinks about her (42). He also talks about feeling so nervous in a beautiful girl’s presence that one’s heart starts beating like a drum, so loudly that it could wake up those who sleep (44).

This morning my heart has been warmed and encouraged by a beautiful young girl not because of any romantic infatuation but because of her beautiful and courageous soul. I think of her as the Mary of our day, who gave birth to a movement that liberated and redeemed God’s people, God’s water and God’s land.

This upcoming Sunday, I will be preaching at an Episcopal church called Nativity and I will be preaching on the Magnificat (Luke 1:46 – 55) in which a young teenage girl, who gives birth to a liberating movement, proclaims, “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”

Yesterday, President Obama halted construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, denying the final easement required for the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. The grassroots movement that stood up for the protection and sanctity of the land and water of Standing Rock reservation began with teenage girls, like Tokata Iron Eyes. Their initial resistance to DAPL inspired hundreds of clergy (including myself) to stand in solidarity with the water protectors in early November, not to mention the thousands of others (including Army veterans) who have emboldened the movement with their presence and support.

“This entire movement,” she explains, “was brought up by the youth and it just started so small. And this entire camp was built and it was just very powerful to see everybody coming together and living together and praying together and having ceremonies together and it was just so powerful… And now the easement for DAPL was denied!”

I so clearly see Mary’s spirit beaming through Tokata Iron Eyes when she then says, “I feel like I got my future back,” echoing Mary’s magnificent proclamation: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.”



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