Who owns this land? This question was foreign to many Native American tribes as they encountered European explorers. They often responded, “How does one own the land?” Or, “How does one own the air of the sky or the water that surrounds us?” Ownership of the natural world was a foreign concept to the Indigenous People’s cosmology, which maintained an undergirding belief that all of creation—the air, the earth and all that dwells on it—belongs to the One who crafted it. All, including plants, animals, and human beings, stood in equality as they each lived life accordingly.
This concept of ownership plagues us even to this day. In a world and time when land and its natural resources become more scarce as the decades go by, the pursuit to protect our resources that we cannot live without—such as our water—has become a growing crisis. This planet could very possibly come to war over access to clean water as sources become more contaminated.
Many Native American cultures and traditions believe that the true ownership of the land or earth belongs to the women of the culture. Just as women bring life into this world, so too the earth that we live on gives us life with food and water.
Psalm 37:11 captures this life-giving notion. Who shall inherit the earth but the meek? Not those who will harm or exploit. The earth will be inherited by someone who protects the life of all members of creation. Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5, niv). While the Psalms offer us a vocabulary to use in speaking of the divine, they also remind us of the values we must possess as we live in the Creator’s world.
You who has given us the breath of life, walk with us as we remember those characteristics of this journey that respect all members of creation. Help us to be meek and humble and to resist anger and violence. Amen.
Joseph had experienced betrayal by his brothers and then had been sold into slavery. At the time, he no doubt had felt abandoned by God. However, after God raises up Joseph in Egypt, Joseph is able to provide for his family in a time of drought. Although others have acted with evil intentions, God uses it for good. The psalmist offers a similar encouragement. We struggle in the real challenges that face us, but we believe in a God who can carry us through them. In First Corinthians, Paul explains that God carries us even through death to resurrection glory on the other side. Jesus teaches us to respond to evil with mercy. Because we believe in a God who will ultimately bring justice, we do not need to serve as judge and executioner.
Read Genesis 45:3-11, 15. How would considering your children’s children to seven generations change the way you make decisions?
Read Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40. What is your relationship to the land on which you live now and the land on which you lived as you grew up?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50. How do you live out the characteristics of God’s imperishable realm?
Read Luke 6:27-38. How do you respond to Jesus’ call to love your enemies as an individual? How does your community of faith follow this gospel requirement?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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