All Saints Sunday, November 4, 2018
In the early 1900’s my grandfather staked a homestead claim on SW-10-48 12, west of the 4th Meridian. The province of Alberta did not yet exist, nor the town of Viking at that time, not even a railroad. My grandfather built a rough bachelor shack until he was married in 1909, and about that time took an ox cart to Wetaskiwin to buy lumber to make the house where he would raise his family, and my dad and mother would raise their family (and now where Mike and Kyla Lawes are raising their family). My dad both was born and died in that very same house.
Over those 114 (ish) years where my grandfather and his family, my father and his family, me and my family, and now my son and his family have been on that land, I/we have become pretty attached to that homestead quarter. When it comes to thinking of leaving that place, I try and think of something else as quickly as possible. In many ways, this land seems like it belongs me /us (as our names appear on the land titles and tax assessments), and I belong to it. But upon further reflection, even after all these years, I don’t think that this land really does belong to me. If the earth belongs to the Lord, and all that is in it, and those who live in/on it…then it can’t really be mine (or anyone else’s for that matter). I can till it, seed it, hay it, pasture cows and sheep on it, build houses and barns on it, brush trees on parts of it and plant trees on other parts, use it as a source of income to support my family, my church, my community, and the various levels of government- but it’s not really mine. It belongs to the Lord.
Psalm 24 was/is a liturgical psalm, perhaps written for the return of the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6) and/or for a festival commemorating that event. The psalm begins by restating a theme found in Genesis 1, God’s creation of the earth and all that exists. Recently we had a speaker from the Creation Ministries Institute give a reasoned response for that biblical/confessional doctrine. The earth is the Lord’s, for He made it (and the entire universe for that matter). Although the creation story from Genesis 1 (which is referenced here and in many other places in the Bible) is not given as a scientific treatise, it does set forth an essential truth regarding the earth and the universe as a whole…it belongs to God. Humans since the time of Adam have been called to steward God’s good earth, but it’s never been theirs or ours to own. As creatures created to steward this earth, the follower and worshipper of God gets a true perspective of the way things really are. I/we may have a land title with my/our name on it for the SW quarter of section 10, and the United States may even place a flag on the moon…but that doesn’t make that quarter mine, nor the moon theirs. They both belong to God.