|The Epiphany||January 6, 2019||The Epiphany, Year C||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Eve, Year C||December 24, 2018||Christmas Eve, Year C||Luke 2:1-20|
|Advent 3, Year C||December 16, 2018||Third Sunday of Advent, Year C||Luke 3:7-18|
|Advent 2, Year C||December 9, 2018||Advent 2, Year C||Baruch 5:1-9, Luke 3:1-6|
|Advent 1, Year C||December 2, 2018||The First Sunday in Advent, Year C 2018||Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Psalm 25:1-9, Luke 21:25-36|
|Christ the King Sunday, Year B||November 25, 2018||Christ the King, Last Pentecost||John 18:33-37, Revelation 1:4b-8|
|Pentecost 26, Year B||November 18, 2018||Proper 28, Year B||Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13: 1-8|
|Pentecost 25, Year B||November 11, 2018||Proper 27, Year B||1 Kings 17:8-16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44|
|All Saints, Year B||November 4, 2018||All Saints’ Day, Year B||Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-a; John 11:32-44|
|Pentecost 23, Year B||October 28, 2018||Proper 25, Year B||Mark 10:46-52|
|Pentecost 22, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 21, 2018||Proper 24, Year B||Psalm 91:9-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45|
|Pentecost 21, Year B||October 14, 2018||21st Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 23, Year B||Mark 10:17-31|
|Pentecost 20, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 7, 2018||Proper 22, Year B||Genesis 2:18-24, Hebrews 1:1-4,2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16|
|Season of Creation 5, Year B||September 30, 2018||The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-7, Mark 16:1-8|
|Season of Creation 4, Year B||September 23, 2018||The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year B 2018||Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Psalm 126, Romans 8:14-25, John 16:16-24|
Season of Creation 1, Year B
Sermon Date:September 2, 2018
Scripture: Isaiah 55:6-13, Psalm 104:1-24, James 1:17-27, Mark 4:1-9
Liturgy Calendar: Season of Creation 1, Year B
“Sower with the Setting Sun” – Van Gogh (1888)
For the next several weeks, our attention turns to God as maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen,
And to God’s beautiful world around us, and our relationship with the earth.
God declared all things good at their creation, and humankind began life in paradise.
God gave us dominion over creation.
But we have misunderstood the intent of this gift on God’s part, having systematically used the earth and its plants and creatures as things rather knowing them as a part of paradise, in which all of life works together for mutual sustenance and thriving.
In the new creation, so beautifully depicted in Revelation, the last book in the Bible, a river runs through the center of the city and the tree with its leaves for the healing of the nations grows alongside this cleansing, living water.
Today’s scriptures illustrate the premise that God is always working toward a new creation right here, on this earth.
Back in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah speaks to a people in exile, reminding them that God is in control of history. Isaiah offers hope and consolation to the people, and to the earth itself.
God’s goal—a new creation.
Isaiah says of God that God’s ways are not our ways.
God’s word, which brought creation into being at the beginning, will go forth again, and will accomplish what God has in mind, this new creation in which all dwell together in harmony.
This new creation is marked by peace and by joy.
God’s word goes out and does its work-
And we get to go out in joy and be led back in peace, and not just us, but the mountains and the hills shall burst into song, the trees will clap their hands; the thorns and briers that grew out of the earth when it was cursed because of our actions are replaced by cypress and myrtle.
In Psalm 104 the Psalmist presents this same vision of the earth, its creatures, and humankind living together in harmony, all as God has ordered.
Our baptisms in living water help us claim our place in God’s harmonious creation.
When that baptismal water pours over our heads, we are given the opportunity to open our eyes to God’s creating powers throughout our lives. We have the desire to seek that new creation even when all around us has grown old and hope seems to have vanished.
When we choose to live in God’s new creation, we grow, and contribute to the good of the world around us.
When I was in Guatemala, I lived in an apartment surrounded by a beautiful garden, and I soon found out why the garden was so lovely. A gardener showed up and worked hard every day, giving careful attention to all the plants, and tending the soil.
That garden didn’t just happen—just as here at St Peter’s, Cookie spends hours gardening, so that when the rest of us show up, we’re surrounded by beauty.
In our lives, God is that hard working gardener, hoping to bring out the beauty and goodness just waiting to grow in our lives.
Today’s collect is based on the metaphor of God as gardener.
Listen to the collect again—
We ask God to graft in our hearts the love of God’s name,
To give us growth in true religion, which is to love God and then to love one another as God has loved us,
To nourish us with all goodness,
When we let God work in our lives, we get to be like fruit trees, and produce fruit, the fruit of good works.
In today’s reading from James, the writer reminds us that we are the first fruits of God, that the word that God implants in us has saving power. We are to be doers of the word, and not hearers only.
Those who do God’s work and bear God’s fruit are blessed in their doing.
And in the gospel, Jesus, who loved to tell stories, today tells the crowd a story about a farmer sowing seeds.
In this story, God is the farmer, sowing the Word, hoping the seeds being sown will take root and grow.
But the destiny of each seed depends on the soil in which it lands.
The seeds that fall into good soil grow and bring forth grain, lots and lots of grain!
We, the listeners, are the soil. And so depending on the sort of soil we have chosen to become, that seed, God’s Word, may well die before it ever germinates in us, or it may struggle along, and then die from neglect. Or some stronger plant may choke out the new growth.
Or the Word may land in the good soil that we have tended, and then grow up and bear much fruit that will benefit the world.
One of the ecological problems of our time is the fact that people all over the world are hungry, in spite of God’s abundant and plentiful creation which produces more than enough to go around.
Part of the problem is food waste. Food waste is such a big problem that it is one of the areas that was addressed this past week at the World Food Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.
These statistics on food waste from the World Food Summit website are sobering.
“Almost one third of all food produced worldwide gets lost or is wasted each year in food production and consumption systems1. Every year, food that is ultimately lost or wasted consumes about one-quarter of all water used by agriculture, requires cropland area the size of China to be grown, and generates about eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The past Friday, people at the World Food Summit spent all day thinking through and talking about how to reduce food waste around the world.
We help with this problem right here at St Peter’s through our food distribution by working with the Healthy Harvest Food Bank to get produce that might otherwise be wasted to those who need it—a win for everyone.
Here’s some exciting news as well—people all over Caroline County are getting together to work on trying to eliminate hunger in this county and the surrounding areas.
We are going to have a Food Summit right here in Caroline County this month, sponsored by CERVE (Caroline Emergency Relief through Volunteer Efforts).
At the Summit, which several of us will attend, the discussions will center around food quality–getting healthier food to people, finding ways to work together in the county, identifying areas in the county that don’t have access to a food pantry, and growing the food pantries that already exist.
I’m excited about all of this—the seed God planted here, at St Peter’s, to feed the hungry, fell on fertile ground.
We’ve been able to sustain and grow our food ministry for almost four years now. By working together with others, we may even be able to expand our food ministry and figure out ways to make it even more effective.
So good work is going on here at St Peter’s, and in Caroline County, as the world turns its attention to the issue of food and making quality food assessible to all.
At home, we can also do a few commonsense things to cut down on food waste—buy only what you need at the grocery store, store the food properly, use the older food first, check out those dates and pay attention to whether or not the date is one of those “best by” dates or an actual expiration date before you toss it out, cook creatively, eat your left overs, plan your menus, and put your freezer to work. Give some attention to what happens to food in your house this week.
But in addition to doing the good work we are doing here at church and in our homes, I challenge each one of us this week to set aside some time for our own personal summits, not food summits, but Soil Summits.
At your Soil Summit, spend some time with the story Jesus told today.
Consider what sort of soil you have become. Can the seed of God’s Word grow in your soil and yield fruit?
If you find that your soil is too rocky, or too dry, or too thin, don’t despair. That’s the point of a summit, to come up with ideas and to take action—action to make your soil so rich that the Word of God can accomplish in you what God has got planned for your life.
We don’t have to tend our soil alone. We have one another.
God is waiting for permission to be our full time gardener, to help us tend our gardens, so that we can be doers of the word and not hearers only, and so that our gardens can become welcoming places of abundance and plenty, joy and peace.
Our gardens are waiting to become new creations, so get busy—and
Invite God the gardener in!