Lament and Hope: A Pan African Quad-Centennial Devotional Guide - Page 15

Land Seizures (1865-Present Day) and Common Ground
in the US and South Africa
Weekly Scripture Lessons:
First Sunday: “Divine View” (Psalm 24)
Second Sunday: “Power, Envy, and Greed” (1 Kings 21:1-16)
Third Sunday: “Persecution and Promise of Restoration” (Jeremiah 38-40;32)
Fourth Sunday: “Justice Must Prevail” (Amos 5, Micah 6)
Fifth Sunday: “Breaking Bread in Your Community” (Luke 24:13-35)
Biblical Reflection:
Legal land dispossession compounded the dehumanisation of slavery in both the United States and South Africa.1 These
legal measures have contributed to multi-generational impoverishment on the one hand and multi-generational privilege for
the beneficiaries.2 These fundamental injustices have systematically perpetuated privilege at the cost of human dignity and
abundant life (John 10:10) for major segments of the population.
The Psalmist (Psalm 24) adopts a different perspective: The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. Abuse of power, envy, and greed
motivate some individuals and institutions to pursue policies and practices, which dehumanise and exploit others. Those in
opposition are often vilified, persecuted, and sometimes martyred.
And yet, as people of faith, we are also a people of hope. Oppression will not overwhelm us because we worship a God of justice
and mercy. Our faith motivates us to remain engaged in the struggle3 for justice and the quest for restitution.
The mid-8th century Before Common Era (BCE)/Before Christ (BC) prophets in both Israel and Judah, Amos and Micah,
imbue us with the courage to be persistent in our contemporary struggles for justice. In both the United States and South Africa,
we have been able to celebrate moments of victory as people and movements witnessed to their faith by challenging injustice.
O God our help in ages past, we bring ourselves and our communities before you this day. Land dispossession and the
inequitable distribution of nutritious food from the land disempower your people. And yet you call us to receive Jesus Christ
into our lives. Today, we pray that the Holy Spirit may guide us beyond charity and into acts of justice and restitution and
empower us to remain faithful to Him who has promised to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine. To
him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.
Reflection Questions:
Week 1: What is our national land legacy?
Week 2: How has that legacy affected your family?
Week 3: What sacrifice(s) are we making to bring about justice?
Week 4: What victories have we celebrated in last year’s struggle for justice?
Week 5: Can you identify where Jesus is “breaking bread” in your community?
Rev. Dr. Lionel Louw is pastor emeritus of Community of Faith, a former chief of staff to the Premier of the Western Cape, and a former
associate professor and head of the social development department, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
In Faith & Courage South African Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (2017:13-27) documents his clan’s land dispossession.
Swartz calculated the financial loss to one South African family of R4.1m, while the loss in human dignity is incalculable. Swartz, Sharlene. Another Country. 2016:85.
Human Sciences Research Council. Cape Town
Allan Boesak in Dare we speak of hope (2014:67-89) reminds us hope demands struggle.
Bread for the World


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