Season of Creation 3, Year C

Title:Season of Creation 3, Year C

After 3 weeks in the season of creation on the web, we have focused on climate change, the effect of deforestation and the week coming up pollution and water scarcity. The above powerpoint goes through the major issues of climate change.

There are two additional relevant links on the front page this week:

1. Time Magazine story on climate change 2050

2. BBC Climate change: Where we are in seven charts

The sermon used the lectionary readings to tackle environmental issues

From the Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost coin – “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 even the one lost sheep and will go find it and bring it home to the rest of the flock. 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 all of creation matters”

Sermon discussed into what has been lost through deforestation and reducing federal regulation over the environment. We can “find” part of it through our own actions to reduce use of carbon.

Photos from this Sunday:

 Season of Creation 3, Sept. 15, 2019 (full size gallery)

Deuteronomy 11:10-17

Israel was called a land of barley and wheat (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). The spring wheat and barley harvest preceded the major harvest in the fall, the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16, 34:22). Both the spring and the fall harvest were dependent upon the rains coming at the right time. The fall rains are called the early rain. The spring rains are called the latter rain. The early rain is spoken of in Deuteronomy 11:10-15, and Joel 2:23.

The rain is prophetic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon people’s lives individually as they accept Jesus into their lives and allow the Holy Spirit to teach and instruct them concerning the ways of God. The early rain and the latter rain also teach us about the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit in a corporate way upon all flesh. The early rain refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Christ’s first coming and the latter rain refers to the outpouring of  the Holy Spirit during Christ’s second coming.

We are the managers but as Deuteronomy states God is watching this management . “The eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year”. We must heed his commandments and God will provide – rain, grass for the fields and as a result “you will eat your fill” As the Psalm maintains God is in control of both the weather – weather – rain, hail, frost, snow, wind – which can determine your abundance but also the end product – “satisfying with the finest of wheat.”

Psalm 11

Psalm 11 is a Davidic psalm expressing trust in the Eternal as a refuge and fortress for those who do what is right. David spent many years struggling first with Saul, then with the neighboring nations, and finally against the rebellion led by his son Absalom

Acts 17:22-31

Who will support the disciples after Jesus is gone ?

Paul goes to Athens and tries to build a common basis with Greek philosophy and Christ though Christ divinity was hard to muster with the Athenians. There is an appeal to universal wisdom.

On his second missionary journey, Paul has crossed into what is Turkey and has arrived in Athens, a city known for its interest in the divine and its openness to discussion of philosophies and religions. He argues for Christianity in the synagogue and in the marketplace. Epicurean and Stoic philosophers see him as dabbling in philosophy and proclaiming “foreign divinities” (v. 18), of Jesus and the resurrection (possibly thought by them to be a god). He is invited to join in philosophical discussions at the “Areopagus” (v. 19) on edge of the marketplace. He presents the good news to a people of a culture very different from the one in which it was first proclaimed. He explains it in their terms.

This passage commends preaching that seeks to establish a foundation of common ground with an audience.  

After praising the Athenians for their piety and gods (“objects of your worship”, v. 23), he draws attention to an altar to “‘an unknown god’”. He tells them: I know that god; he is God; he “made the world …” (v. 24) and is “Lord” of it. He depends on nothing (“as though …”, v. 25), so he is greater than all Greek gods; he is the source of all (“gives … life”). Not being confined to specific “shrines” (v. 24) and needing no sacrifices (“nor … served …”, v. 25) shows his greatness. God created “all nations” (v. 26) from proto-human, Adam (“one ancestor”): Stoics too believed in the unity of humanity. Deuteronomy 32:8 says that God “fixed the boundaries of the peoples”; dividing history into eras is basic to faith (v. 26b). The Greeks thought of the seasons of nature’s cycles and the earth’s habitable zones. They searched and groped for God (v. 27); we go further: we find, obey and serve him.

Paul now quotes Greek writers in defense of his arguments (v. 28). For “God’s offspring” (v. 29) idols are inadequate objects of worship; only the true God, the creator of heaven and earth and of all lower orders of spiritual being, is worthy of our worship and service. Jesus has brought an era when turning to God is imperative; “ignorance” (v. 30) of his ways is no longer acceptable – because God will have Jesus (“a man”, v. 31) judge people’s worthiness. This we know because he has raised Jesus. Raising “a man” to divine status is hard for Paul’s hearers to accept. Some are open to further discussion but others are not (v. 32).

Where the Jerusalem authorities turn into a murderous mob (with even Saul/Paul acting as an accessory), here the sophisticated sages of Athens express a willingness to hear more—though some (most?) remained unconvinced. But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. (Acts 17:32–34 NRSV) 

Luke 15:1-10

Luke writes his gospel for a community undergoing transition. Luke’s audience was originally poor Jews but now is composed primarily of respectable people who have an annoying way of looking down on others for a variety of reasons.   Here Jesus is gathered with both the sinners (tax collectors and their ilk) and the supposedly righteous (the Pharisees and the scribes).

Jesus teaches the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. In both parables, the protagonist pays attention to something that normally would be forgotten about soon after—a lost sheep, a lost coin. Jesus  uses the unwearied search of a shepherd for a lost sheep or of a poor woman for a lost coin as an image for God’s unchanging love toward the sinner. Everything has value.

There is also the connection in this parable to the others. The shepherd risks the flock, to some degree, by leaving them to find the lost sheep.  But, perhaps more importantly, the ninety nine cannot be fully saved apart from the lost sheep.  They will remain ninety nine and not experience the wholeness of the perfect number, one hundred.  Salvation is relational; our salvation is connected to the well-being of other. 

Both parables speak to the implicit value of things.  People—human beings, their very lives—are valuable to God, every single one. And when society starts saying you’re worthless, you might start believing it—and ending up in addiction, depressed, and feeling completely useless to the world

Likewise our environment is relational. One of the key environmental problems is deforestation.  The underlying driving forces behind deforestation are poverty, population and economic growth, urbanization and expansion of agricultural lands. In turn deforestation causes the extinction of plant species which could lead to new food sources and cures for cancer and other diseases.