Thus says the Lord: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves? They did not say, "Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that no one passes through, where no one lives?" I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination (Jeremiah 2:5-7).When I was going to seminary I was living in a place that had changed drastically. In the late eighties on my way to college in Chicago we had passed this small town and wouldn’t have even noticed it from the road. It would have been just more farmland. Yet when I came almost twenty years later I could understand how the prophet felt when he repeated God’s words: “you defile my land.” When my parents first moved there ten year ago it was a small town with houses built in the 30’s and around those houses were farms. There were miles of corn, soybeans and wild flowers growing. At the edge of the farms you could still see the prairie it used to be with corn flowers and Queens Anne’s lace blooming all around. Traffic was a little slower and a little kinder. People would have to wait for a tractor going down the road.
Then people began to come. Farmers were offered a lot of money for their land. Who could resist selling? On this land was built row upon row of houses. The houses were huge and each set seemed to be bigger that the ones before. These houses were built one on top of each other. You can hear and see everything your neighbor does. The pace of life is faster and more disconnected from each other.
You defile my land. You forgot my promises of plenty and liberation. God calls us to remember what was so that we can move forward into a brighter day where we are not destroying the land but healing the land.
God we remember how you rescued us from oppression. How you guided us through a time of rebuilding and lead us into the land of plenty. Yet we rejected you and your land. Lead us back; guide us through the wilderness one more time. Amen.