|First Sunday in Advent, Year B||December 3, 2017||First Sunday of Advent, Year B||Mark 13:24-37|
|Christ the King, Year A||November 26, 2017||Christ the King Year A||Matthew 25:31-46|
|Thanksgiving, Year A||November 22, 2017||Thanksgiving, Year A||Psalm 65|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 19, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Matthew 25:36-37|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 12, 2017||Proper 27, Year A||Matthew 25:1-13|
|All Saints, Year A||November 5, 2017||All Saints’ Day, Year A||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 29, 2017||Proper 25, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Matthew 22:34-46|
|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 22, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Isaiah 45:1-7, Psalm 96, I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22|
|Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 15, 2017||Proper 23, Year A||Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14|
|Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 8, 2017||Proper 22, Year A||Isaiah 5:1-7, Matthew 21:33-46|
|The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year A||October 1, 2017||The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year A||Matthew 6:25-33|
|The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year A||September 24, 2017||The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year A||Leviticus 25:1-7, Hebrews 4:1-11, John 6:1-15|
|The Season of Creation, Week 3, Year A||September 17, 2017||The Season of Creation, Year A, Week 3||Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Psalm 65, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Matthew 6:19-24|
|The Season of Creation, Week 2, Year A||September 10, 2017||The Season of Creation, Year A, Week 2||Job 38:1-18, Psalm 139, Romans 1:18-25, Matthew 5:13-16|
|➤The Season of Creation, Week 1, Year A||September 3, 2017||Season of Creation 1, Year A||Job 37:14-24,Psalm 130,Revelation 4,Matthew 8:23-27|
The Season of Creation, Week 1, Year A
Sermon Date:September 3, 2017
Scripture: Job 37:14-24,Psalm 130,Revelation 4,Matthew 8:23-27
Liturgy Calendar: Season of Creation 1, Year A
This past Friday, September 1, Christians all over the world entered into a five week period known as The Season of Creation. Two religious world leaders began this period by getting together and declaring Friday A Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
We all know about Pope Francis, the leader of the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.
Less familiar to us is the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, who is the 270th Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, and who started the whole idea of having a season of creation back in 1989.
Both Francis and Bartholomew understand that care of creation is something that transcends differences between the churches of the West and the East, and that all Christians need to come together in unity and solidarity in our concern over the deteriorating state of creation all over our planet.
Where are the Anglicans in all of this? Anglicans around the world, in Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia have been observing this season for many years. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will be leading a Taize prayer service on Tuesday, September 19th, and you can join in on-line by going to the website listed in the bulletin.
The Episcopal Church in the United States has the option of observing this season by adding services during this five week period, but Bishop Shannon has graciously agreed to let us do this at our principal service each Sunday since we are so small and really can’t support extra services over an extended period of time.
So in our observance of this season, we are joining with Christians all over the world to give specific attention to the role of God and creation in our lives during the next five weeks.
The season officially ends on Wednesday, October 4th, St Francis Day, and I hope we can end the season on that day with a worship service that will include the traditional blessing of the animals.
Let’s hear from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew about why this season is important, from their joint message issued on Friday.
“The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, ‘in the beginning’, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, ‘no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground’ (2.5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, ‘in the end’, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.”
“However, ‘in the meantime’, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behavior towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets—all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead we lord over it to support our own constructs.”
“The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting. The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.”
“Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment…on this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labour in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf.Ps 126-127), if prayer is not at the centre of our reflection and celebration. Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.”
“We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation. We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.” http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/09/01/the_day_of_prayer_for_the_care_of_creation_joint_message/1333983
Now right up front, I want to say that unfortunately, in the United States, the care of creation has been perverted into a political issue. People tend to put on their political thinking caps first when they consider environmental issues.
But Francis and Bartholomew are reminding us that first of all, we need to put on our theological thinking caps when we consider creation, because, as they point out, our relationship with creation inevitably affects our relationships with God Almighty and with one another.
During the next five weeks, we’re going to be putting on our theological thinking caps regarding creation, and I hope you’ll find this thinking cap so useful that you’ll want to continue wearing it after this official season ends on October 4th.
In the past few weeks, creation has starred in national news headlines. Earlier in August, the solar eclipse swept across the United States, and this past week Hurricane Harvey swept ashore in Texas dumping nearly 7 trillion gallons of rain. The might and majesty of God’s creation has been on full display!
Today’s lessons open with a weather report in the reading from the book of Job.
The weather reporter is a man named Elihu.
Elihu, here, reporting in from somewhere in the middle East.
Last night, God put on quite a display! Lightning flashed out of the clouds for hours!
This morning, the wind swept away the clouds and the sky is clean,
spread above us like a mirror of cast bronze, hard and bright.
And the land and the people swelter and lie still under the heat of the south wind.
And now, God comes out of the north in golden splendor! God comes in awesome majesty.
The Almighty is above our reach, and exalted in power. In his justice and righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, all people revere him, for does not God have regard for the wise in heart?
The practice of studying creation and all of its wonders as works of God, as Elihu is suggesting to Job, is a rich, rewarding discipline that tells us something about the order of nature and the moral order of the universe.
And Job had plenty of questions because of his own suffering.
We suffer as well. We too, have plenty of questions about the moral order of the universe, the order of nature, and to put it simply, “Where is God in all of the things that go on in our lives?”
Paying attention to creation can help us to answer that essential question for us who consider ourselves Christians.
Where is God in all that happens in my life?
Dr. Carol A Newsom, who is an Old Testament professor at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University down in Atlanta, has this to say in her commentary on Job about the importance of paying deep attention to the wonders of creation.
Newsom says that when we pay attention to creation, we see that its very essence is order.
Day and night alternate. Seasons come and go and come again. Creation is active, and then it rests. Birth, death, and birth, and death, and birth, over and over through untold generations.
These alternations order and nurture life.
Newsom says that there is a rightness in the order of nature, a rightness that is disturbed only at a terrible price.
We human beings are part of this order of rightness. Quoting Newsom, “our bodies are attuned to the rhythms of the physical order of being. But humans are not simply like other creatures who are attuned to the natural order of rightness by instinct. For humans, the understanding and the will are involved in responding to and extending the order of rightness in creation to the order of rightness in social community” (Newsom, page 593).
We all know that passage from Ecclesiastes—for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.
Newsom goes on to say that “taking that insight further, a modern philosopher has said ‘the glory of being human is the ability to recognize the pattern of rightness and to honor it as a moral law,’” and moral law is a general rule of right living that would be considered universal and sanctioned by God.
“The horror of being human is the ability to violate that rightness, living out of season—doing violence to the other, perverting the most sacred human relationships, devastating the world in greed, overriding its rhythm, not in the name of necessity and charity, but in the compulsion of coveting ’” (Newsom, page 593).
Both of today’s New Testament readings spell out where God is in terms of the order of creation.
God is the Creator, and God ultimately has control over all of creation.
In Revelation, the Spirit invites John to come through an open door into heaven, and when John goes through that open door, he is in the spirit and he sees the throne and the One seated on the throne. This mystical scene which seems so bizarre to us, is based on Jewish mysticism and the visions of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel in the Old Testament.
Light, colors, sound explode around John, and all who are gathered around the throne are worshiping the Lord God Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.
In all humility, the elders remove their own crowns and cast them before the throne, singing, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
God is the creator of all things. God is the creator of the natural order which nurtures life. This God is the one who will, by the end of Revelation, make right the horrid wrongs that have taken over creation, and make all things new. In Revelation, we see played out before us with such drama the death of all that has perverted creation and God’s natural order, as God brings to birth the new heaven and the new earth.
And today’s gospel reading makes sure that the readers know that Jesus, Son of God, is also Lord of sea and sky and ruler of creation.
This is the God that we come together to worship every Sunday, the God who created all that there is, the God who made it all good in the beginning, the God who will make all good again in the end, and the God who is always and everywhere in the process of making all things new.
So I send you out today to pay attention.
Worship God as you consider the wonders of creation.
Ask yourself how you, as part of this creation, may take your rightful place as one person in the natural order of things, one whom God has chosen to enter into God’s work of care and nurture for all of creation.
Pray about how you can become part of God’s miraculous work of making all creation once again new and good.
Newsom, Carol A. “Commentary and Reflections on Job 36:22-37:24” pages 589-594. In The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, IV. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.