Monday, September 8, 2014

Looking Forward to September 14, 2014 -- The Promise of Land

A reminder that both Sunday School and Youth Group start this Sunday.  So does Junior Choir.

The Scripture Reading this week is Genesis 12:1-9

The Sermon title is Whose Land is It Anyway?

Early Thoughts:  In his novel Exodus Leon Uris describes the area we now call Israel, Palestine, and Jordan the "twice promised land".   And that is just in the era that the British were in charge of the area....

(for more about this video see this post)

God says to Abram, "Get up and Go!".  God promises to lead him to a land where he will have many descendants who will be a blessing to the world.

Great plan.  Only problem is --- there are already people living there.  So it always has been, not only on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, but many other places in the world.  So how do we know whose land it is anyway?

For most of human history the land has been the basis for wealth and power.  That changed a bit with the Industrial Revolution, as many British noble families learned the hard way.   To have land means you can utilize the things the land produced, and sell the surplus for cash to get other stuff.  To have land has often meant you had a population of serfs/villeins/slaves/sharecroppers you could use as either a labour force or a fighting force.

Land is important.  Land is life.  Land is future.

But most often land is also occupied by somebody else.  Then what?

In the Middle East we still have battles over the "twice-promised" land -- just last month there was an uptick in the violence.  Whose land is it?

I would argue that "Whose land is it anyway?" is a question that we as Canadians need to feel pretty sharply as well.  Because it is only when we ask ourselves that question and look at all it means to talk about land that we will seriously start to work on rebuilding our relationship with the descendants of the people who lived on THIS land when our descendants arrived on these shores.

15 years ago we had a lot of talk in the church about the Jubilee year and the forgiveness of national debt.  Part of Jubilee is also returning ancestral land to the "proper" owner (which in Deuteronomy and Leviticus means the Tribe/Clan/Family of Israel that the land was given to after the conquest--not the Canaanites who were there before Joshua led the people over Jordan).  I remember a couple of people in the congregation where I was serving my internship note that we did not talk nearly so much about that aspect of Jubilee in the Canadian church.  I wonder why that was so true.....

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