By The Very Rev. Mark B. Pendleton
At the end of the violence that preceded the dividing of the spoils of the wars of invasion in Canaan, the Israelite tribes received their portion of the spoils: land. Promised land. Holy land. “Thus the Lord gave to Israel all that land that he swore to their ancestors that he would give them; and having taken possession of it, they settled there.” (Joshua 21:43)
One of my most vivid childhood memories occurred each year on Halloween night after the annual frenzied havoc that my friends and I would bringupon our neighborhood. Our unabashed goal was to collect bags and bags of candy. We were motivated, organized and ruthless. We had a well thought-out plan and we executed it each and every year: we knew which houses to skip and which would reap vast rewards of large hauls of candy. At the end of the night, we dumped our sweet treasure out on the living room floor and then began to sort, categorize, negotiate and trade.
Unlike the Halloween candy of childhood memories, there are few things in this world that get divided up so cleanly. Colonial powers create artificial but lasting borders that haunt local populations for generations. In prosperous societies, those with a head start do not always leave enough for those who might follow. Those upstream – on the map and in life — often fail to think of those downstream.
What is the inheritance you have received that has nothing do with the material world? From family, friends, and God?
Have you ever felt that you were given something in this life that did not deserved? A leg up? A head start? A second chance?
To the God of land, water and air, help us be wise inheritors of what we have received from our ancestors in faith and family. May we receive gratefully all that you give us. And for what we do receive, may we remember that it is never fully ours alone. Give us the courage to share, conserve, and pass on your goodness to your children yet unborn.
The Very Rev. Mark Pendleton is Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut