|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 4, Year B
Sermon Date:September 23, 2018
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Psalm 126, Romans 8:14-25, John 16:16-24
Liturgy Calendar: The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year B 2018
Last night at 9:54PM the autumnal equinox took place, marking one of the earth’s great seasonal turnings—the summer, now past, has turned to fall—the days are growing shorter, a late afternoon wind here and there contains a chilly hint of the frost to come, and crops are being gathered in.
Only a rusty brown stubble remains in fields in which corn just recently towered tall, green and tasseled, the ears swelling into sweetness.
Birds, having summered here, have undertaken their journeys south. And the fragile, paper thin, monarch butterflies with their glowing orange wings, will soon begin their 2500 mile journey home to the same oyamel fir trees in Mexico on which the generations of their families have wintered.
Imagine that. This is as if each one of us, at this turn of the year, would turn from all we’ve known, start out and travel 2500 miles to a particular house in which our great great grandparents had been born—to a far away place we had never ever been to, or even seen, but that we knew so well and desired so deeply that we would leave behind all we had ever known to travel to that place where we could pass the hard cold winter in warmth and in safety. And it would be not any house in the area, but THAT house, the family house. That’s how it is for monarch butterflies. Not just any fir tree, but THAT family fir tree where generations of its family have wintered.
Part of being human is that we long for and hope for what is yet to be.
In every season, somewhere deep within, the seed of longing for the next season begins to stir, and then to grow, and we become restless with the waiting.
And ironically, what we long for is rooted in what we have already known. The butterfly longs for what its family has already known, that one fir tree.
We long for the new creation when all is made whole, complete, contained, safe. All of us, no matter how our lives have gone, came from the life giving safety of our mother’s wombs. And somewhere deep down inside, it is to that safety and security that we all long to return.
Scripture describes this womb-like environment for humanity as the Garden of Eden, where all of creation lives together in harmony.
But when we lost our way, so did the rest of creation.
But although we have lost our way, we have never lost our longing, and neither has creation.
And in that longing for the new creation lies our hope, and the hope of the whole creation.
The psalmist writes about this hopeful longing as the remembrance that holds within it the vision of future completion and perfection.
The memory—“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.”
The current longing—“Restore our fortunes, O Lord.”
The hope—“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.”
Jesus describes this same longing when he talks with the disciples about the time when he will no longer be with them, but then he will be with them again.
They will lose him. They will lose their way. They will weep and mourn.
But in the midst of this mourning, they will remember the time they have been with him, as they hope to be with him again. When they can see that the new creation has become reality, they will rejoice.
To help the disciples understand, Jesus uses the image of a mother giving birth—
“When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
Paul takes this birth imagery and applies it to the lost creation as it waits to give birth to the new creation.
Paul says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, grown inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”
There it is again, that longing, and that hope that we all hold, somewhere deep inside, for the new creation, which we Christians believe is made possible through our relationship with God through Jesus himself.
Everything is waiting on God.
But this waiting is not some passive sitting around—it’s waiting with a purpose. The monarch waits for its longed for destination by undertaking an arduous journey to get home to its fir tree.
Creation is also on a journey, constantly in a process of being made new.
As our collect puts it, “Things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Take a walk through the woods and you’ll see fallen trees and decay, and yet new birth is everywhere. As one of you shared with me recently, the greatest minds on the planet cannot produce a seed that holds within it the infinite potential to in its turn produce countless new seeds bearing new life. In the tiny acorn resides a sturdy oak tree that will in its turn produce even more seeds. One apple tree seed has the potential to produce countless numbers of apples.
Volcanoes give birth to lava. When the lava cools into rock, lichens grow on this rock, helping to erode it into soil in which plants can take root.
After destructive wildfires, the fire followers bloom. These are the wildflowers whose seeds can only germinate after exposure to intense heat. This coming spring, the places that have been destroyed by wildfires this past summer and lie brown and barren now will burst into blooms in every color of the rainbow.
The first job God gave to us human beings at the beginning of our story was to till and to tend the earth. So as we make our own journeys to our resting place in God, God expects us to care for our earthy, earthly home because we are journeying along with it to the final new creation for which we all long.
As monarch populations shrink every year, due to the ongoing destruction of the oyamel fir forests, and the loss of the habitats that contain the nourishment the butterflies need to make their journeys, people have taken note, but we may be noticing too late.
Our great grandchildren may never be blessed by seeing a monarch flying past on its long journey, because these butterflies will have become extinct, due to the destruction of what they need because of what we think we need.
But hopefully, the work that people have begun to stop the destruction of the fir trees, and the intentional planting of gardens with flowers and plants that the monarchs need for food on their journeys home will in the end help to preserve this miraculous piece of God’s creation.
This is our season of waiting.
In birth and death, springtime and harvest, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, we are waiting on God.
And while we wait, we undertake our journeys within this world, hoping for the day when we will reach that place that the generations before us have reached—the presence of God, our Garden of Eden.
But as we journey, we must remember and rejoice in the fact that God has granted us the miraculous privilege of a sojourn in the midst of God’s intricate, magnificent creation.
For everything there is a season.
So may we rejoice as the seasons turn, one to another, and as the days that seem long turn into the years that fly by.
And may we remember that we too are traveling through the beauties of this earth toward our own true home, Jesus.
There’s an old American hymn written in the 1700’s whose words describe our destination as a tree, and our lives as a journey on the way to that tree.
It’s in Wonder, Love and Praise if you want to look at the text, number 749.
And the text is a fitting summary of all I’ve tried to say in this sermon.
The tree of life my soul has seen, laden with fruit, and always green: The trees of nature fruitless be compared with Christ the apple tree.
His beauty doth all things excel, by faith I know but ne’er can tell the glory which I now can see in Jesus Christ the apple tree.
For happiness I long have sought, and pleasure dearly I have bought; I missed of all; but now I see tis found in Christ the apple tree.
I’m weary with my former toil, Here I will sit and rest a while; under the shadow I will be of Jesus Christ the apple tree.
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive, it keeps my dying faith alive which makes my soul in haste to be with Jesus Christ the apple tree.