On this Land
By Yousef Alkhouri, Academic Dean Assistant for Academic Extracurricular Programs
Coordinator of Christ at the Checkpoint
The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish writes, “we have on this land that which makes life worth living.” These words of Darwish are profoundly reflecting Palestinians’ intimate connection to their land. How much can we learn from Darwish and other Palestinians? The world celebrates Land Day this month. It might surprise Christians to learn that Land is a central theme in the Bible. God’s first command to humanity is to keep and care for the land (Gen 1: 28). The land is God’s gift for humanity. The Land is the space of our existence. It is the source of a well-sustained life. It is also critical to meditate on the fact that God created from the soil of the land and we shall return to it. That might explain our desire to be connected to a place, and the land. Palestinians understand this very well. Palestinians are rooted in their land and believe that their land makes life worth living. That is the logic behind Palestinian willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of their land.
Some churches and Christians believe that the land is a temporal station on their journey to eternal life. Nevertheless, the Bible says otherwise. In the book of Revelation, God renews the creation, a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). God comes to dwell with us, the Word incarnated (John 1: 14), and is coming to dwell with us in the land for eternity (Revelation 21: 3). Jesus teaches us to invite God’s Kingdom to dominate our land, and pray “may your Kingdom come to earth.” Rich Villodas states it beautifully, “In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus clearly wants his followers to be more concerned with God’s Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven than with us getting out of earth into heaven.”
As we pray for God’s Kingdom to come, we also have to remember that God is the owner of the Land (Psalm 24:1). It is His land, and our mission is to care for it and enjoy it. In as much as, we care for our bodies as holy temples of God; the land is the space of God’s ongoing work and presence. It is His temple. Let us encourage one another that this land is a source of life, a gift from God for us to enjoy. Let us pray for the Lord to make us faithful trustees of His temple and make it a better place every day.