This past weekend I was invited to attend the prayer meeting of one of the local chapters of the Native American Church.

The Native American Church arose as a movement among Apache, then spread to many tribes in the late nineteenth century. Traditions from various tribes come together in ritual form centered around the religious use of peyote, a hallucinogen. Prayer meetings typically begin on Saturday evening and conclude Sunday morning. The ritual is done by men.

This local chapter is mostly made up of "Jesus Men," that is, Native American Church practitioners who confess Jesus as Lord, and recognize God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So I said yes. The man who invited me told me that he knew I could not stay up all night and preach the next day, so asked me to come to the teepee at sunrise. (more below)

Before sunrise on Palm Sunday I drove west into the countryside, to the site of the meeting. Parking the church van on shoulder of the road, I could hear the drumming and singing as I walked to the teepee. A boy stood outside with a bucket of water. Soon we were joined by a woman who brought several pots from a nearby house. Soon after sunrise the flap was opened and I was invited in. Entering clockwise, a spot was made for me in the circle of men sitting around the fire. The water bucket was brought in, as well as the pots of food. Then the flap was closed again.

I won't share details until I am sure that I may. There were songs in Comanche (one of which was about Jesus walking on water, according to the man on my left) and prayers. I participated in the prayer rituals, saying aloud "In the name of Jesus," which was greeted with a chorus of "Amens." We also drank water, and ate breakfast. The peyote use is done in the night, before I came in.

After the rituals, we went out (clockwise) and embraced one another. I made it to Sunday School on time (without much to spare).

I regard these "Jesus Men" as brothers in Christ. Not every Native American chapter is made up of such; and some chapters would not have allowed a white man entry into the teepee. But Jesus was exalted, and we were blessed, even though the liturgy we followed is not found in Protestant prayer books or hymnals. God has a big family.