Sunday, March 10, 2019

1st Sunday of Lent

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you... you shall take some of the first of all the fruit from the ground....and give it to the Lord....and celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.
Right off the bat we need to realize that much of the Bible is written through the paradigm of the Jewish people.  The Bible follows their story closely.  The Bible does not have the capacity to be overly introspective about all that the authors take credit for or overlook in their telling.  So one of the first realities to note is that the possession (and control) of land did not often flow easily or peacefully.  To take possession of a land "being given by God" meant taking it by bloody force. Humanity has been pursuing land acquisition for roughly 10,000 years. Since the Agricultural Revolution, land has been a key commodity that people have fought for, died for, and lost fortunes over.  Real estate has always had a significant "shady" component -- the "swampland in Florida" cliche has it's humor rooted in many a real life swindle.

So I don't hear the "gift" from this passage of scripture in the land ownership piece.  It may more powerfully be found in the giving back to God a measure of what we gain in life. Gratitude, humility, awareness of others' needs, sharing, understanding are all virtues that God has prized from the beginning long before possessing land was a thing.  They are often virtues overlooked in our times of strident wealth accumulation, obnoxious political wrangling, and winning as the only truth regardless of how it is done. 

Giving back a strong portion of what we have received to aid the less fortunate is a good way to stay in tune with the sense of lack that forms the daily reality of millions of people around the world.  Giving back helps us stay plugged into the depths of God's own compassionate giving.  It keeps us aware of others' struggles, and builds a relationship of understanding in both God and those who do not have as much as we might have.  Taking possessions for granted and ignoring mindfulness of our good fortunes leads to the craving of thinking we need more at all costs.  Keeping portions flowing back to God though, is a healthy way to remain connected with spirit and the goodness of humanity and God's creation.

Questions for Discussion and/or Journaling:

  1. In what ways do you consider yourself fortunate?
  2. If you were God, what would you want from the world's people?
  3. Notice that God didn't ask for money, but for fruits of their labor.  What fruits of your labor (skills, knowledge, products/money, time) would make a "strong portion" to return to God? 
Great Spirit, re-energize and infuse us with gratitude, humility, awareness of others' needs, sharing, and understanding.  Bountifully teach us to share.  Faithfully lead us to walk with you.  Amen

No comments:

Post a Comment