Today marks my first day on the job as pastor of North Church in Kalamazoo, MI. We got started with Morning Prayer and Bible Study at 9am. The passage from the Daily Lectionary was 1 Kings 21:1-16, the story of Ahab and Jezebel conspiring to sieze Naboth’s vineyard.
Folks observed that enough is never enough with Ahab. He’s always after “one more thing” thinking it will make him happy. He tries to put a monetary value on something that is inherently priceless (i.e. one’s ancestral heritage, the land tended by one’s family for generations). Doing so cheapens the sacredness of the thing itself. Moreover, someone observed that Ahab wanted to uproot a historic vineyard, something that takes a lot of care and patience (you apparently can’t reap a harvest the first year) and replace it with a vegetable garden, something that repeatedly yields lots of produce right away.
This made me think of the way that corporate big box stores like Wal-Mart will blow into town and put local mom & pop stores out of business, sometimes erasing generations of labor with quick, cheap junk. How many modern-day “Naboths” are being robbed and killed by “Ahabs” and “Jezebels” who act without principle in the name of power and profit?
In what ways are we, like the people of Naboth’s city, complicit in the murder and exploitation of our fellow beings by our silence in the face of injustice?
Let us pray today for those who struggle under the yoke of injustice and commit ourselves to becoming the answer to our prayers.