Protocol and Honor Gifts
Proverbs 18:16 (GW)
16 A gift opens doors for the one who gives it and brings him into the presence of great people
As I begin to learn native ministry, there is a tradition that is widely practiced. It is called ‘protocol’.
It is expected, when meeting a native leader, that we should bring a gift, a gift not of money, rather one signifying respect and honor. These gifts are called ‘honor gifts’.
They are to be given from the heart….
I have been in meetings, where protocol gifts were given for several hours, in an incredible expression of love, respect, and honor.
I have heard about how, in Israel Jonathon Maracle gave gifts to the representative from the Israeli government, and how he cleared his schedule for the entire day, to meet and host the First nations peoples there determined to honor him and Israel. Hours spent, as natives piled his desk with honor gifts, and spoke expressions of love, support and honor to his heart.
Chief Kenny Blacksmith explained this verse the last time we were together, as simply a beautiful expression of honor, as our gifts open doors for the giver.
In our white culture, we give ‘house warming’ gifts when we visit our friends. How much more, when we recognize and enter ancestral native territories, and honor the host peoples of these lands. We are entering their homes, honoring this is only right before God.
I have seen some incredible examples of the power of this act, but there is one that still touches me very deeply: when Harry Hayes (US Army retired) and Gregory Gil (US Marine Corps retired) learned of the horrible betrayal of trust by our government towards the Navajo people that resulted in ‘the long walk’ of the Navajo. In uniform, they presented a combat medal received in operation desert storm, and a marine combat knife (K-bar), as honor gifts to pastor Jerry Tom, and Deswood Tomes representing the office of Navajo President Ben Shelley, asking forgiveness for what the US military had done to the Navajo people, stating that ‘all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ and that only God could forgive and fix this horror, and that this was NOT ‘the freedom, liberty and justice for all’ they had given their lives to defend.
Protocol and the giving of honor gifts may be a native tradition, yet it is one that we might be wise to incorporate in our culture today. The honoring of elders, respect for leaders, the recognition of ancient treaties, lands, and covenants, will bring the power and presence of the Holy One that inhabits eternity upon the scene.
It is this presence, that will heal our lands…
“Father, I come before you today, seeking you to heal our land. Show me what to give, to whom, as I travel. Help me to honor Your authority on the land, recognizing the peoples You have given the lands to, who live there. May I always respect elders and leaders, as I seek to walk gently in Your wisdom, bring Your healing wherever possible. Thank you for this Lord Jesus, Amen”