Lament and Hope: A Pan African Quad-Centennial Devotional Guide - Page 13

President Andrew Johnson’s Land Policies
Weekly Scripture Lessons:
First Sunday: “The Promise of Land and Community” (Genesis 15:1-15)
Second Sunday: “Wise Women and Stewardship of God’s Creation” (Proverbs 14:1)
Third Sunday: “Land, Liberty and Hope for God’s People” (Luke 4:18-19)
Fourth Sunday: “Advocating for Land Justice and Women’s Empowerment” (Hebrews 11:8-16)
Fifth Sunday: “Advocating for Equitable Policies and Dignified Work” (Psalm 27:1-14) and (Proverbs 30:5)
Biblical Reflection:
The importance of land is a recurrent theme throughout the Bible. The relationship between the descendants of Abraham,
Sarah, and Hagar and the land became central to the covenant God forms with Abram and the Israelite people. God first
promises the land of Canaan to Abram’s descendants in Genesis 12:1-17 and later it was codified through the covenant in
Genesis 15 and 17.
Later, a shift occurred from the nomadic traditional life of Abraham and Sarah to the creation of a stationary homeland.
It took generations for Abraham’s descendants to inherit the land they were promised. The journey was long and violent—
including the experience of slavery in Egypt. Yet even when the promise of land was fulfilled, the Bible tells us that the
descendants of Abraham would be separated from the land and forced to live in diaspora.
There are parallels in the African-American experience. Like the Ancient Israelites, African Americans were promised 40-acres
of land, but this was rescinded under President Andrew Johnson’s land policies despite the contributions of African Americans
in the Civil War. This intensified the status of living in diaspora without the ownership of land since the forced transport of
enslaved Africans during the transatlantic slave trade. Since that time, African Americans have longed for a place to call home
and have had to make home wherever they have been. Enslaved foremothers had a primary role of doing this in the fields and
at kitchen tables. In the face of family separation policies that attempted to remove black men from community life, women
weaved together a collective understanding of home from the fields to church fellowship halls to community centers ensuring a
sense of belonging. Now we must imagine a sense of home that is no longer bound by unjust public policies and take action to
make that vision a reality.
God, open the eyes of our hearts to hear the cries of those who long for a place to call home. Grant us the courage to move
beyond our discomfort and accompany those who are suffering by challenging the systems and policies that would keep them
in bondage. In so doing, allow us to become ambassadors of your love. Amen.
Reflection Questions:
Week 1: What vision of community and home do you long for?
Week 2: As we celebrate Women’s History Month, what unique role do women play in God’s vision of creating
beloved community?
Week 3: Jesus proclaims his purpose in Luke 4. How might that purpose inspire hope for those who are without land
and home?
Week 4: How can we faithfully advocate for just policies with a gender lens of empowerment?
Week 5: What should be included in policies that advocate dignified work and goodness for men and women?
Rev. Jennifer Bailey is the executive director of Faith Matters Network and an African Methodist Episcopal Minister.
Bread for the World


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