|Christmas Eve, Year A||December 24, 2019||The Eve of the Nativity||Luke 2:14|
|Advent 3, Year A||December 15, 2019||Advent 3, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10|
|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|Advent 1, Year A||December 1, 2019||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Pentecost, Year C||November 24, 2019||Last Pentecost, Christ the King||Luke 23:33-43|
|Pentecost 23, Year C||November 17, 2019||Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28||Luke 21:5-19|
|Pentecost 22, Year C||November 10, 2019||Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38|
|All Saints, Year C||November 3, 2019||All Saints’ Sunday, Year C 2019||Luke 6:20-31|
|Pentecost 20, Year C||October 27, 2019||Pentecost 2, Proper 25, Year C||2 Timothy 4:6-8|
|Pentecost 19, Year C||October 20, 2019||Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24||Luke 18:1-8|
|Pentecost 18, Year C||October 13, 2019||Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19|
|Pentecost 17, Year C – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||October 6, 2019||Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||2 Timothy 1:1-14,Luke 17:5-10|
|Season of Creation 5, Year C||September 29, 2019||Season of Creation 5, Year B||Proverbs 8:22-31, Ephesians 1:3-10, Luke 24:13-35|
|Season of Creation 4, Year C||September 22, 2019||Season of Creation, Year C, Week 4||Luke 16:19-31, Amos 8:4-8|
|➤Season of Creation 3, Year C||September 15, 2019||Season of Creation, Week 3, Year C||Deuteronomy 11:10-17, Luke 15:1-10|
Season of Creation 3, Year C
Sermon Date:September 15, 2019
Scripture: Deuteronomy 11:10-17, Luke 15:1-10
Liturgy Calendar: Season of Creation, Week 3, Year C
When my parents were in Ireland many years ago, they witnessed the following scene. A shepherd and a young boy and their sheep dog passed by herding the large flock of sheep.
But then, as my parents watched through the window of the pub where they were eating, they saw this whole procession come to a halt. And though they couldn’t hear anything, they could see that the shepherd left the young boy and the dog in charge, and then that shepherd went back alone, the way they had come.
Before long, the shepherd returned. And in his arms he cradled a lamb who had gotten lost from the flock. Once the lamb had been reunited with its mother, the procession went on out of sight.
Jesus could have been describing this scene when he told the parable about the shepherd going off to find the one missing sheep. Finding it, the shepherd scoops up the lost sheep and lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.
At the end of the story Jesus tells, the shepherd gets home and he calls his friends and neighbors together and says “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost!”
So this parable tells us something about God. God’s mercy is such that God goes seeking after what is lost and rejoices when the lost is found and brought back into community.
And God is concerned, not just for us, but for all of creation. Everything matters to God. As today’s Old Testament reading points out, God looks after the land itself, caring for it as the shepherd cares for and searches out even the one lost sheep.
As the writer of Deuteronomy says, “The eyes of the Lord your God are always on the land, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”
The earth is God’s treasured creation, and we and all of creation matter to God.
As Elizabeth Johnson states in her book, Creation and the Cross: The Mercy of God for a Planet in Peril, “The whole world comes from the hand of one gracious God who created everything out of love…and throughout time, every creature with its relationships is held in existence by the same life giving Giver of Life. At the end, all will be gathered into a new heaven and a new earth by the same divine love…. originating, sustaining, and completing, God’s creative work is active in everything from the beginning, in the present, and into the future.”
So God is watching and God cares about all creatures, including the polar bears, ocean coral and frogs, all of which are in great danger of extinction due to climate change. God cares about God’s forests, God’s waterways, and the earth itself, all a part of the great web of life that God has brought into being to sustain all of life on this planet. God’s mercy flows out to all of creation.
So as God seeks to sustain the parts of creation that are in danger of being lost, or that are suffering because of what human beings are doing, God must mourn as the losses to God’s creation continue to grow at an alarming rate.
All of us know from the news that the Amazon rain forest is on fire.
A recent article in The Free Lance Star by Marcelo De Souza talks about the importance of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest. “The Amazon each year takes in as much as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. The Amazon’s billions of trees also release water vapor that forms a thick mist over the rainforest canopy. This mist rises into clouds and produces rain, affecting weather patterns across South America and beyond…and the Amazon is also home to an estimated 20 percent of the earth’s plant species, many of which are found nowhere else.”
Without enough trees to create the rainfall needed by the forest, the longer and more pronounced dry season could turn more than half the rainforest into a tropical savannah, which means that the resulting winter droughts in South America will devastate agriculture, and this impact will even reach to the American Midwest.
Why is this deforestation happening?
The government of Brazil is loosening protections for indigenous lands and nature reserves. Ranching and mining interests are emboldened by President Bolsonaro’s desire to increase development in the Amazon rain forest. In the Amazon, most fires come from the hand of people who want to farm or mine the land.
These fires are affecting the web of life not only in Brazil, but the results of this devastation of the rain forest will be felt throughout the community of the world.
Closer to home, the current administration is in the process of rolling back the kinds of federal regulations that help to protect our air and water. Some people believe that these regulations stand in the way of a growing economy. An editorial by Catherine Rampell in The Washington Post sums up some of these recent actions.
Last Thursday, the administration formally repealed a rule that granted expanded federal oversight of US waterways, bodies of water that the federal government can protect under the Clean Water Act, which makes it illegal to pollute a “water of the United States” without a permit. The rule that has been repealed included the streams and wetlands that feed the larger waterways, including those used for drinking water.
Other recent pollution producing deregulatory actions include allowing power plants to dump more lead, arsenic and mercury into the water, relaxing restrictions on the release of methane and fine particulate matter into the air, and legalizing a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.
Yes, we can do our individual parts and not worry about what is going on politically. We can all care for our environment by simply being more restrained in our use of resources: we can care for waterways by picking up trash that can get into storm drains and wash into our streams and rivers. Being wise about the sorts of fertilizers that we use on our lawns, and not using asphalt in our driveways which increases run off, are just a few examples of being proactive. The church website has information on deforestation and what we as individuals can do to make a difference—using recycled paper, paying attention to whether or not products you buy have a Forest Stewardship Certification, even eating more vegetarian meals!
But our individual actions are not enough. A government of the people, by the people and for the people must care for the common good of the people, lest we perish from this earth because of the parts of creation that we have willfully, or out of ignorance, let perish. God’s creation is resilient, but creation is also exceedingly vulnerable to damage and destruction.
And so, yes, political actions that take the good of the environment itself into consideration are part of a Christian theological approach to caring for creation as God asked us to do in the beginning.
God asked us to have dominion over creation as God has dominion over us, a dominion of love and mercy, of seeking out and finding what has been lost, restoring those lost things back into the community of life, and then rejoicing over that restoration.
The Season of Creation here at St Peter’s is a time of rejoicing in God’s good creation.
But the Season of Creation is also a time to take stock of our own actions and priorities regarding the environment, to repent where we have failed, and to work for the restoration of what we have lost or are about to lose on this earth, because the eyes of the Lord our God are always on the earth, and God has entrusted us with her care.
Johnson, Elizabeth A. Creation and the Cross: The Mercy of God for a Planet in Peril. Maryknoll, NY. Orbis Books, 2018.
de Souza, Marcelo. “The causes and risks of the Amazon fires.” Pg A5. The Free Lance-Star, Saturday, August 24, 2019.
Rampell, Catherine. “Dirty water, you say? How about that economy!” A23 The Washington Post, Friday, September 13, 2019.