Go and see: an idol of silver
By Rev. Alan Jenkins
“Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver,
or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.”
Reflection: The Bible’s teaching on idolatry seems a simple, antiquated one from which I naively thought we had all graduated. It was on a Peacemaking travel study seminar in Guatemala, however, that I learned we still have a problem with the precious idols of the metallic sort. Exposing my naiveté was a group of Xinca indigenous women, who reside on fertile, forested land replete with springs and creeks, located just an hour or two east of Guatemala City. And for more than a decade, they have been practicing non-violent resistance against the US mining company Tahoe Resources, Inc.
First posing as an agricultural company wanting to plant fruit trees as they bought up ancestral land, their eventual operation exploited what is believed to be the third largest silver mine in the world. Their use of carcinogenic chemicals and copious amounts of water harms local crops, water supplies, animals, and public health. The day we met with the women, they shared their spiritual connection to the land and their dependence upon its biological diversity. Leaves, fruit, pine straw, and differently colored candles representing the four cardinal directions were carefully laid out on an altar as they shared their connection to God’s creation and their commitment to defend the garden of life. I left inspired and in awe.
Action: Consider what threats exist to God’s creation in your own region. Examine your and the PC(USA) Board of Pensions’ investments to ensure you are not funding such extractive practices abroad. Also, consider what spiritual practices from our own tradition continuously connect us to God’s life-giving creation and commit us to defend it when threatened.
Prayer: Creator God, root us in your rich creation and lead us in your way, finer than gold and sweet as silver. Forgive us our practice of idolatry. Grant us courage to open our eyes to your interconnected web of mutuality, where (in)justice to one is (in)justice to all. Amen.
Rev. Alan Jenkins serves as a hospice chaplain in Atlanta and a parish associate of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. He participated in the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s travel study seminary to Guatemala in August 2017.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divides
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.