2016 Lenten Devotional
First Sunday of Lent
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:1-13, NRSV)
|Domesticated alpaca roam the mountaintops outside of Huancayo in the central Andes |
where mining and climate change are dramatically impacting the environment.
Jesus had yet to preach a single word, perform a single miracle or even speak a single truth to power, and yet the devil calls him the ¨Son of God¨ - a tempting title reserved for Caesars, Kings and Emperors.
Former Peru President Garcia once screamed that no advancement will ever come as long as the ¨dogs of the orchard¨ block human progress. The ¨dogs¨ he spoke of were the indigenous peoples of the jungle who were protecting the lands from the invasion of the extractive industry whose billion dollar profits are the backbone of Peruvian progress today.
He wanted to settle a debate about how to use those profits: some on the right argue for more investment in business, some on the left argue for more investment in health and education. But for those from the ¨orchard¨ - the ¨dogs¨ - they bark and growl, wondering what difference any investment will make if it all hinges on the destruction of land, displacement of peoples, contamination of waters, imbalance and discord in Creation.
It is hard to imagine that there is greater distance between us than that between left and right. But in the end, we live between two worlds, not just two points on a line.
One world seeks harmony, a peaceable kingdom. The other seeks something better, a great city upon a hill.
One uses nature to move the human family forward. The other embraces nature as sister and brother.
One is fully human, delicate and vulnerable, trusting and innocent; it is knowledgeable and wise and so often misunderstood. So often dehumanized.
And the other? It is less than divine, seeking power to make positive change, generating profits to share with the less fortunate; it is an oh so tempting image – perhaps even of the devil himself.
You and I may never be emperors, but like Jesus we still have a choice to make: accept our humanity or hide from it. What world will you choose? What will be your kingdom come?
Prayer: God of all Creation, may Your knowledge fill the earth as the waters cover the sea, and may we learn to neither hurt or destroy on all Your holy mountain. Amen.
Rev. Jed Koball is a PC(USA) mission co-worker who serves as the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Facilitator for Joining Hands in Peru. He serves with his wife, Jenny Koball, who is the site coordinator of the Young Adult Volunteer Program in Peru.