Pentecost 15, Year B, Season of Creation 1

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Advent 1, Year C 2021 November 28, 2021 Advent 1, Year C 2021 Psalm 25:1-9, I Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36
Christ the King, Year B November 21, 2021 Christ the King, Year B John 18:33-37, Revelation 1:4b-8
Pentecost 25, Year B November 14, 2021 Pentecost 25, Proper 28, Year B, 2021 Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Mark 13:1-8
All Saints, Year B November 7, 2021 All Saints' Sunday Year B Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-6a, John 11:32-44`
Pentecost 23, Year B October 31, 2021 Pentecost 23, Proper 26, Year B Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Mark 12:28-34
Pentecost 22, Year B October 24, 2021 Pentecost 22, Proper 25, Year B Mark 10: 46-52
Pentecost 21, Year B October 17, 2021 Pentecost 21, Proper 24, Year B 2021 Psalm 91:9-16
Pentecost 20, Year B October 10, 2021 Pentecost 20, Proper 23, Year B Amos 5:6-7.10-15. Psalm 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31
Pentecost 19, Year B, Season of Creation 5 October 3, 2021 Feast of St Francis, Pentecost 19, Year B Jeremiah 22:13-16, Matthew 11:25-30
Pentecost 18, Year B, Season of Creation 4 September 26, 2021 Pentecost 18, Year B, Season of Creation 4 Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29; Mark 9:38-50
Pentecost 17, Year B, Season of Creation 3 September 19, 2021 Pentecost 17, Proper 20, Year B, Season of Creation 3 Psalm 54, Mark 9:30-37
Pentecost 16, Year B, Season of Creation 2 September 12, 2021 Pentecost 16, Year B, Season of Creation II Mark 8:27-38
Pentecost 15, Year B, Season of Creation 1 September 5, 2021 Proper 18, Year B Season of Creation 2021 Isaiah 35:4-7a, Psalm 146, James 2:1-10, 14-17, Mark 7:24-37
Pentecost 13 B – Rev. Amy Turner August 22, 2021 Pentecost 13, Proper 16 John 6:56-69
Pentecost 12, Year B August 15, 2021 Proper 15, Pentecost 12, Year B John 6:51-58

 

Pentecost 15, Year B, Season of Creation 1

Sermon Date:September 5, 2021

Scripture: Isaiah 35:4-7a, Psalm 146, James 2:1-10, 14-17, Mark 7:24-37

Liturgy Calendar: Proper 18, Year B Season of Creation 2021


Bonneville Dam, Oregon – Fish Ladder


God is complete goodness.  

God made us good, but we are not complete.

And creation is good, but it too, is not yet complete. 

We, and all of God’s creation, are part of the constantly changing and growing mystery that God is still bringing to loving completion, all held within God’s own  perfection. 

In fact, in the closing book of the Bible, Revelation, the one who is seated on the throne says, “See, I am making all things new…..I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

God, the beginning and the end, is about the dynamic process of making all things new.

So no wonder, in his hopeful oracles written to the Israelites exiled in Babylon, Isaiah uses images of God making all things new to encourage the people and to reassure them that even in their unhappy state, God is at work on their behalf.

In today’s Old Testament reading, God comes and waters break forth in the dry, barren, rocky wilderness.  Streams flow through the desert, the burning sands become pools, and springs of water gush out of what had been thirsty ground. 

The Psalmist reminds us that God cares for us in this restoring way as well.  God, who made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is in them, is the God who gives justice to those who are oppressed, food to those who hunger, sets the prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind, and lifts up those who are bowed down, loves the righteous, cares for the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, and frustrates the way of the wicked. 

In his time on earth, Jesus was also about the work of making all things new.  Today’s two healing stories give us a glimpse into his work. 

In the first part of today’s gospel, Jesus frees a young girl who has been held captive by a demon.  In the second part of the gospel, Jesus gives a deaf man with a speech impediment hearing and clear speech.

We Christians have faith in this God who is always making things new. 

Our faith gives us the vision to see beyond the years…as the writer of Hebrews says in Chapter 11, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” 

So we, through faith, believe that all things are being made new, convinced of God’s good work in all of creation, although we cannot yet see that completeness ourselves.  We still see in the mirror dimly.  But through faith, we believe that we will see God, and God’s perfection, face to face. 

In today’s scripture, James points out that faith without works is dead. 

The living and life giving response of people who have faith in God is to be active participants in God’s work of restoration, healing and ongoing creation.

That is, God calls us, as God’s people, to be about the work of making all things new. 

This is the work that God gave us to do in this world at the beginning–to participate with God in the ongoing process of creation, a dynamic involvement in the care of creation and the renewal of creation, rather than to passively receive or thoughtlessly take what creation gives to us, with no concern for the consequences of our constant taking from it. 

Last weekend we were in Oregon to visit our daughter Catherine and to celebrate her graduation from Concordia St Paul with a degree in nursing.  During our visit, we visited the Columbia Gorge.  The magnificence of the gorge dwarfs human beings, and yet, signs of the human need to tame and take from nature are everywhere, especially obvious at the huge Bonneville Dam, one of the fourteen Corps of Engineers dams along the Columbia River. Since 1938, this dam has provided clean electrical energy to millions of people in the states of Washington and Oregon.   And with the building of this dam and those that followed, the river became easier for human beings to navigate. 

However, the building of this series of dams created havoc in the river ecosystem.  The fast moving waters of the Columbia River once had the greatest population of fish on the planet.   According to some estimates, two thirds of overall habitat for fish has been cut off by the dams because of the difficulty that fish now have getting upstream. 

So in what I would consider to be an example of a faithful response to this consequence of taking from the river, people recognized this huge problem for the natural world and constructed fish ladders so that adult fish could bypass the dams and continue upstream to spawn.  But what got overlooked was how to get the young fish who hatched upstream back downstream past the dams as they headed for the ocean. 

So at the Bonneville Dam, this problem has been considered and the following actions taken.  The dam’s turbines have been redesigned so that they are less of a hazard to the juvenile fish that pass through and even better, a sluiceway has been built to allow the young fish to completely bypass the dam and its dangerous turbines altogether  and to end up two miles downstream.

Most effective of all, the Bonneville Dam has a process called spilling, which is in direct conflict with energy production, but which is the most successful in helping fish as they migrate up and down the river.     

Fortunately, our visit coincided with the annual salmon migration and the spilling of water over the dam to imitate the river’s original flow.  We got to go into one large section of the production plant, where the huge turbines sat silent, and then to see the water, usually constrained, rushing over the dam.  This wild white water was full of fish, feasting seals and at least one sea lion, and ospreys and other raptors hovered overhead, plunging and grabbing salmon in their talons and carrying their glistening catch off high above us. 

And we also got to peer through underwater rivers and see the adult fish up close as they navigated upriver over the fish ladders.

We also visited the Bonneville Hatchery, the  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s largest hatchery, built in 1909 and renovated in 1957 to help address the problem of declining fish populations in the Columbia River.  We saw thousands of young salmon that have hatched this season and that will be released into the Columbia River. 

Will these interventions completely heal the damage that has been done to the Columbia River ecosystem?  No.  But these interventions are an active and helpful response to a problem that people have created, helping to make a damaged ecosystem new again, in some small measure of justice for the creatures, and at least some acknowledgement of and work toward maintaining the salmon population, a food source for the native peoples who still fish along the river, and for all the animals that depend on the fish as a source of food. 

Closer to home, the Rappahannock River is now the longest free flowing river in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and in the eastern United States.  Our 195 mile long river flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains across the Piedmont to the Chesapeake Bay. 

But for almost a century,  from 1909 until 2004, the Rappahannock River was blocked by the Embrey Dam.  Because of the dam, the shad and bass could not swim upstream to spawn, and from 100 to 900 miles of fish habitat were lost along the river and its many tributaries.  But the dam was blown up and removed in 2004, and now the fish are spawning again upriver, and the fish populations, and even eel populations, have increased. 

But like every river, the overall health of the Rappahannock River and the creatures that inhabit it depends on our day to day care. Last year, St Peter’s participated in a Friends of the Rappahannock tree give away.  In the side yard of the church, you can find an oak sapling and a dogwood, and in the back corner of the graveyard, a sweet bay magnolia is growing.  And the redbud that Cookie planted recently in the back corner of the parish house yard, is flourishing.  These trees, as well as others planted by you, help to filter the water flowing into the river. 

Friends of the Rappahannock program manager Bryan Hofmann says that “trees help to stabilize the soil, reduce pollution, and provide habitat for wildlife.  The leaves provide shade and help regulate the temperature of the water and the tree canopy also helps us to slow down the rain and allow the water to slowly reach the ground.” 

The trees help to make rainwater, which becomes groundwater,  new and clean on its way to the river.  We  live in either the Rappahannock or the Potomac watershed, so planting trees is a faithful way to be about God’s request of us to care for creation.  I am sure that the Friends of the Rappahannock will be doing more free tree giveaways, so when the next one comes up, consider participating!  The tree, or trees, you plant will make a positive difference for our environment. Planting a tree is an act of healing for both the earth and for our river. 

As the Psalmist points out in today’s Psalm, our hope is in the Lord, and knowing of God’s goodness makes us want to praise the Lord as long as we live and as long as we have our being. 

So celebrate during this Season of Creation and praise God by picking something to do that is healing for the earth, something that will help in God’s just and creative activity of healing and making all things new and perfectly complete. 


Resources: 

Bonneville Hatchery

Bonneville Dam – A Fish Tale

Environmental Project – Rappahannock River