16th Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 18(23) B
By Robert O. Smith
Proverbs of the elders. Received wisdom. The common sense of the ages. Men speaking to men, warning of loose women. Disjointed aphorisms, speaking against the Other, made know to us today.
Today the Proverbs tell us, “Do not remove the ancient landmark that your ancestors have set up.” But we must ask: Who are our ancestors? Which landmarks are ancient? What is worth remembering?
In our land, history has been crafted from contempt, our ancestors enslaved and sold, our ancestors forced to march to new lands.
Our ancestors were despoiled of land, the very source of life. The common sense of the ages tells us: they are the ones at fault.
Today is the time for new proverbs, new wisdom to fill our hearts.
The monuments of our ancestors are set up in our breasts. We carry them along the way: retelling their stories, refreshing their memories, singing their songs anew, nourishing our children so they will not stray.
Robert O. Smith is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Originally from Oklahoma, Robert lives in Jerusalem, where he directs academic programs for the University of Notre Dame.
“Today, Know This,” is excerpted from Unsettling the World: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization (reviewed here) a Genesis to Revelation anthology by Indigenous and Settler collaborators that challenges colonial narratives in the text and in the contributors lived contexts.
Wild Lectionary, a weekly reflection on land, creation and environmental justice themes in the texts of the revised common lectionary, is curated by Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest of Salal + Cedar, Coast Salish Territories.