Third Sunday of Lent
by Dave Winters
Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing. (Hosea 4:1-3, NRSV)
Concern for the earth is nothing new.
Walter Brueggemann, writing in the January 2016 issue of Sojourners says, “The issue of climate change is a recent one, but the matter of revivifying the creation is a very old one in faith.” He goes back to the eighth century B.C.E. prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah. With rich imaginations and strong vision these prophets proclaimed a powerful word that rings even more true today.
Over and over again the prophets called Israel to recognize that choices have consequences. They saw that God expected “steadfast love” and “justice” and “knowledge of God.” The absence of those always led to a “therefore.”
Hosea says it clearly: “…the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land… Therefore the land mourns and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.”
Indeed, there are consequences, and the land mourns, as do all creatures who live on it. For lack of justice and knowledge of God and steadfast love, our land mourns. So, too, does the land of Guatemala. It is filthy. It is abused. It is polluted by long unregulated chemical use and newer poisonous mining practices. It is another sad example of so many third-world countries where both native elites and outside extractors fail to acknowledge that God’s creation is made for all.
Some in Guatemala are awakening. Professor and poet, practicing Catholic, and Mayan spiritual guide Daniel Caño says "we need to ask Mother Earth’s forgiveness for abusing her.” He urges a return to the old Mayan understanding of the oneness of all of creation and of our reliance upon her provision. Some are protesting, at great personal risk, the mining practices that are sickening their children and ruining their villages. Others protest the deforestation occurring throughout the country.
Ponder Hosea’s phrase: “Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish....” In the U.S., in Guatemala, throughout the world, creation cries out for steadfast love and justice for all. Choices do have consequences.
Prayer: Oh God of all creation, we confess that we have not assured steadfast love and justice for all and our lands languish. As we are dragged mercilessly through this political season, may our choices be guided by your ancient prophets so that blessing may come for all of creation. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Dave Winters, along with his wife, Rachel Lausch, was a Mission Co-Worker in Guatemala and helps facilitate the more than 20-year partnership between Heartland and Maya Quiché Presbyteries.