Reading Walter Brueggemann on ‘The Land’ immediately before taking a group to Israel-Palestine has been very suggestive. Among many of the thoughts buzzing around my head as we leave tomorrow morning will be his observation on the change that happens to people when they leave ‘gifted’ land and enter ‘to-be-managed land’.
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan they were warned never to forget that they had been slaves and sojourners in land that was theirs. If they ever forgot this, they would become oppressors and defenders of what they ‘possess’. He says:
Israel is no longerrecipient of land but controller, no longer creature of grace but manager of achievement. (p.53)
This follows the recognition that ‘the sojourner becomes a possessor’ and needs to ask what is required in order to exercise just ‘possession’ with the mindset and behaviour of one who never forgets that the ‘possession’ was ‘gift’.
As we move around, seeing sights and meeting people, our minds will need to be alive to this sort of question – not just in relation to Israel and Palestine, but in relation to how any of us see the material world, what we ‘own’ and how we steward our resources for the common good.
I’ll try to post while I am there, but can’t promise. Last time I went I used public computers and couldn’t get used to the screen running from right to left (as Hebrew script does). So, I’m taking my netbook and travelling in hope.