URC Daily Devotion 2 May 2024

Joel 1:6-7, 10-12, 2:25b

A people have come up against my country,
a mighty and innumerable people;
their teeth are the teeth of a lion
and he has the fangs of a lioness.
He hath made my vineyard a desolation
and he has torn my fig tree to pieces;
he peeled them to the ground and felled them,
and their branches are turned white…
The field is devastated,
the land mourns,
for the wheat is laid waste,
the new wine has failed
and the fresh oil has run out.
Grieve, ye husbandmen,
mourn, you vinedressers,
for the wheat and the barley,
for the harvest of the fields is lost.
The vineyard is withered
and the fig tree withered;
pomegranates, palm trees and apple trees,
all the trees of the field are withered…
…my great army that I have sent against you. 


In Argentina we have our own musical “Evita”.  Not the one by Rice and Lloyd Weber, but a film shot in 1984 with music by Mignona and Nebbia. There, in one of the songs, you can hear the following: “If history is written by those who win, that means that there is another history, the true history, whoever wants to hear should hear”.

Graham reminded us on Monday that God’s mission has unfolded prophetically within larger systems, which we have called Empires. From the perspective of Latin American theology we often feel that many biblical texts were not only written in these imperial contexts, but were also co-opted by the Empire. In other words, the texts that finally reach us today are the texts of the scribes of the Empire, the history of the victors, and it is our task to discover between the lines the true history, that of the vanquished for God operates in the margins of that history.

Take the book of Joel, which seems to equate an invasion of locusts and other pests with the actions of an army. What if it is exactly the other way around? What if what is actually being described metaphorically is the actions of the imperial armies?  This is how empires operated and operate: destroying everything in their path, including nature.  An army requires a lot of resources to move, provide food and fuel; that’s why military campaigns were timed to the beginning of harvests. Armies consumed everything in their path, and what they had left over or did not need, they destroyed, so that others could not make use of it. 

Scorched earth is what today’s economic system leaves us with, sacrificing everything for quick profit and trying to eliminate competition. God’s economy, on the other hand, invites us to eat the fruits, but not to destroy the trees that give them to us, so that they can continue to feed us and others for much longer (Dt 20:19-20). (In memoriam J.S.Croatto)


My prayer today comes in the form of a beautiful song by the Brazilian theologian Simei Monteiro:

I sing a new song on earth
of all who love and hope, Lord,
to see your reconstruction.
I speak in the new language of the people
words that taste, Lord,
words of the heart.

I live a life that is different,
that wants to see my people, Lord,
to love you and be like you.
I want to change the face of the world
and give it deeper love, Lord,
than it is used to giving. Amen.


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