I came across an unusual story when I was reading through a book with the subtitle, "115 Surprising, Amusing Tales from History." I love those kinds of stories as they teach me something weird or strange or unique that I didn't know. I've read a bit about Custer's Last Stand, and how the Lakota Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, led the rout against an overly confident and much-too-arrogant Colonel George A. Custer. Later in his life, Sitting Bull (also known in his own native language as Tatanka-Iyotoke) played a role in Wild Bill Cody's Wild West Show, kind of recreating his very own life in front of curious crowds. But he was a proud and stoic man, and many thought the shows treated him badly and put him in an unsympathetic light. In a sad end to his life, he was killed during a scuffle with police and was buried in an obscure grave outside Fort Yates, North Dakota. A little dusty path leads to his marker, and his grave is covered by a large rock and a slab of granite.
Though the settlers of the Dakotas never cared much for Sitting Bull, after his death, some of his admirers actually fought over his remains. One night in 1953, from a town just over the boarder into South Dakota, a group carried out a raid, bringing up a back-hoe. They dug up the grave and transported Sitting Bull's bones back to SD and proclaimed that they now had the final resting place of the great Hunkpapa leader and spiritual mystic. They erected a monument on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. But their daring raid has left a lot of questions, especially when it seems they likely used their back hoe to dig in the wrong place. The people at Fort Yates, ND insist to this day that the Mobridge, SD gang only succeeded in stealing Sitting Bull's horse, and those are the bones that are actually buried under the twenty-ton concrete monument on that SD bluff.
in Mobridge, SD
History seems to never be fully settled, and often in dispute. We moderns continue to look at it, reinterpret it, and try to adjust and even sometimes manipulate it to serve our own needs. For me, that does make the study of history a very lively and interesting exercise. Isn't that true of how we approach our Holy Scriptures, since some people like to highlight one particular portion of the Bible over against another. Or a different group will push one strain of thought, or argue over the fine points found in Leviticus, or whether or not the Apostle Paul meant this or actually meant that. It does create for lively Biblical debate and theological engagement.
We'll continue to read scripture, seek inspiration, ask it to shape and mold us, and teach us the ways of God. We should forever resist using verses or phrases to put down or judge or act cruelly toward other people, no matter their differences from us. Whenever we employ the Word of God to help us act with kindness, cry for justice, and love with abandon - we are ever closer to living out the call of faithful discipleship.
See you in church, as this Sunday we praise God for the Saints in our lives.