Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: A Place for You
- Does your congregation use land acknowledgments? If yes, why? If no, would you consider researching the Indigenous inhabitants of the land where you live and praise?
- What educational purpose might land acknowledgments serve?
- How might land acknowledgments be connected with repentance?
“If I go and prepare a place for you.” – John 14:3 (NIV)
When Jesus said there was a place for us, he wasn’t singing Moon River. But he was singing. He was also promising that we would land some place in style someday, some way. That Trinity could be today.
Jesus often spoke in the PRESENT present tense. Before was now and later is now. Alpha and omega. The already but not yet. Time connects by promises, not clocks. “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen, Amen.”
When some use “Land Acknowledgements” in worship, we connect large places to long times. Land acknowledgements acknowledge and ritualize beginnings of gatherings or worship services. They expand us.
A sample: “We are not the first people on this land nor will be the last. We remember and honor the NAMED people whom we often forget or hurt.” Usually, good research is done to name the actual first peoples on what you call your land. People “train” to pronounce the names correctly. There is often an effort made to acquaint ourselves with the offspring, culture, and history of the firsts.
Alongside these obvious courtesies, there is a reorientation of the self. We will stop thinking of ourselves as owners of the land. We might add repentance to our acknowledgment.
Maybe we weren’t always the best people in the way we thought about land or cultures. But we’ll be crossing time in style, someday, some way. If, says Jesus, a place is prepared for you, he’ll be there too, spreading the mercy around.
For a renewed way of thinking in long instead of short time, we pray. And let us be as good to our children as our ancestors were to us. Amen.
Donna Schaper works nationally for Bricks and Mortals, a NYC-based organization that provides sustainable solutions for sacred sites. Her newest book is Remove the Pews: Spiritual Possibilities for Sacred Spaces, from The Pilgrim Press.