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Displacement, Las Pavas

Reflections on Advent: Week 4

This is part four of four in our Advent series, reflecting on peace and justice from our perspective working with local peacemakers in Colombia. Each piece reflects on the following Sunday’s Gospel reading. Please read and share with your family, friends, co-workers, and faith community.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Human One.

And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’

Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. –Luke 1:26-38 NRSV

Following Gods Call – by Pierre Shantz

Advent is a time of hope and waiting. We all anxiously await the birth of Jesus. It is a time of celebration. We sing our favorite hymns. We prepare the wreaths and light a new candle for every Sunday. Every day, we open a new window in our Advent calendars looking for a treat or a lesson for the day. For us who know the outcome of the story – the entering of God into our broken world – it is one of our favorite seasons in the church.

For Mary this time was filled with questions and anxiety. First, she is approached by an angel who asks her to be the mother of her people’s Messiah. This meant carrying a child before she is married and that is not Joseph’s. What would Joseph say? Would he understand? What would others say? The biblical story shows a young woman filled with faith, who readily accepts God’s call. However, we can imagine the fear that Mary was feeling at that moment or throughout the months leading to Jesus’ birth.

As the poet Vaclav Havel says, “Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.” Mary accepted God’s challenge in spite of her fears of how things would turn out because she knew it was the right thing to do.

We as Christians today should not accept God’s callings because we know things will go in our favor, but we must accept and work for them because it is the right thing to do.

An example of this is the small farming community of Las Pavas. They are made up of one hundred twenty-three families (more than 500 people), organized as the Buenos Aires Farmers Association (ASOCAB) and they work communally on the Las Pavas farm.  On July 14th, 2009 riot police and military personnel illegally evicted the families from their land. The eviction happened at the request of a large Colombian palm oil company called Daabon. They made a deal for the land with a man who with ties to drug trafficking. They were able to have this illegal action happen because of their power and money. History has shown that when large corporate or drug-related interests take over land there is little one can do to get it back.

But this small farming community chose to heed God’s call and not sit back and accept what had happened. Conventional wisdom would say they were crazy going up against such powerful forces. But they did and with the help of many they were able to get the highest court in Colombia to rule that the eviction was indeed illegal. On April 4th, 2011 they marched back to their land with their flag that says “Las Pavas: Returning to the Promised Land.” The process of fighting for their return was filled with fears and insecurities. Leaders were threatened with death. The community was accused of being guerrilla rebel supporters. They faced hardships of hunger and homelessness. But in the end, they didn’t give up because they knew that no matter what the outcome, the land of Las Pavas is theirs and they had to struggle for it because it was the right thing to do.

As with Mary, God is calling us to be part of helping God enter into our broken world. From Colombia to Palestine, the world is filled with injustice and war. Today more than ever, the God of peace needs to break forth into our midst. Like the communities in Colombia, people all over the world are working to bring about God’s peace and justice in there communities.

Just as the people of Las Pavas, we must be ready to struggle for justice and peace and open our hearts to receive Christ’s call to “Come follow me!” We may be unsure of the details or the outcome of this call. You too will be filled with questions: “Where it will lead me? What will my family say? Will they understand me?” These callings are not always as clear as a winged angel appearing before you. But God still has called each one of us to boldly help the God of peace and justice enter into this world.

Yet like Mary, we must be prepared to say, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” not because it will turn out fine, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Let Us Pray

Spirit of God, You are Love
teach me the art of loving my sisters and my brothers,
to listen to their needs and take care of them,
to be just and merciful every day of my life
while waiting for the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus.

Spirit of God, You are Lord and Giver of Life
Deliver me from sin and despair, of half-heartedness
and anything else that prevents me from living fully
as a true child of God,
while waiting for the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus.

Spirit of God, You are the Teacher Within
Remember the words of the Carpenter of Nazareth
and teach me his ways to live according to his will,
while waiting for his glorious coming at the end of time.

Spirit of God, You who reveals the Truth
deliver me from all obscurity and error
and help me understand the Good News of Hope
while I await the glorious return of Jesus Christ.

Spirit of God, You who prays in us
with sighs unimaginable,
Put a cry on our lips: “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Put a hope in our hearts: “The Lord will come.”

May the Lord come to us, today and forever.
We await his coming in glory.
We await your salvation and everlasting life you promise us. Amen.

1Refer to Dube, Musa and Jeffery Statley, John and Postcolonialism: Travel, Space and Power. Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

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About CPT Colombia

CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams) Colombia is an International organization seeking to be allies for and partner with communities who are threatened with displacement and violence. We try to support their initiatives to promote justice and peace and their resistance to attempts by those who oppress them and seek to dispossess them of their land, culture and livelihoods.

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