Thursday, February 18, 2016

Devotional for Second Sunday of Lent

Second Sunday of Lent
by Sarah Henken

Is not this the fast that I choose? (Isaiah 58:6, NRSV)
I lost a little weight in December. No, I wasn’t planning to jump start any New Year’s resolutions. I’d unexpectedly found myself joining the subsistence farmer’s diet for a few weeks, as adapted for a vegetarian visitor. I ate soup of yuca and plantain, grown yards away from where we ate, gratefully harvested from land cultivated for a dozen years by my friends, the campesinos of El Tamarindo.  

The communion of those midday meals gave us sustenance in the midst of spirit-draining tragedy. While crops and homes were being sinfully destroyed by machetes and bulldozers, I took a break from my prayers and advocacy efforts to sit at table and find refreshment with these friends. For a long series of days, the police, lawyers, and hired hands worked irrepressibly to complete the eviction of the campesino farmers, while the community kept vigil, stood guard, and did everything possible to preserve the dignity and rights of its members.

Campesinos consult with their lawyers while riot police
walk past in El Tamarindo.

A decade ago the campesinos sought title to the land but, before they could acquire it, an owner appeared: a corporation with commercial interests instead of plans to produce food for local neighbors or for the millions living in nearby Barranquilla. Since Colombia’s free trade agreements came into effect, the land became much too valuable to be left in the hands of campesinos. After five years of community resistance, the company finally succeeded in ousting the farmers in December 2015.

The eviction of the campesinos from El Tamarindo was a defeat, but it’s not the end of the story. Some of the campesinos have relocated to a different farm, while others have found shelter in the city; all await the verdict of the constitutional Court, which has agreed to consider their appeal. In the meantime, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia continues to stand in Christian solidarity with them, working and praying for God’s justice.

Prayer: Merciful God, forgive our complicity in a system that destroys life and livelihoods in the quest for “progress.” Give us eyes to see and ears to hear your people bound by injustice. Give us hearts of flesh that stir us to act in true solidarity with them, that together we may see your light and experience your healing love. Amen.

Sarah Henken lives in Barranquilla, Colombia, and serves with Presbyterian World Mission as Regional Liaison for the Andean countries of South America and as site coordinator for the Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) in Colombia. She blogs sporadically at

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