Season of Creation 5, Year C

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Title:Season of Creation 5, Year C

 Season of Creation 5, Sept. 29, 2019 (full size gallery)

This was the conclusion of the Season of Creation with two services at 9am Holy Eucharist, Rite I and instead of Morning Prayer, Eucharist, Rite II. We had 10 at 9am and 35 at 11am. For the latter we used a special Eucharistic Prayer for the Season of Creation which is in the video link and was partially taken from the Iona group in Scotland.

At the Announcements Catherine previewed the upcoming newsletter on children in church as well as one on St. Peter’s Art. The bulletin contained upcoming events in November, including a concert by Philharmonia, a Philadelphia choral group.

We also celebrated Helmut and Susan’s 59th wedding anniversary.

Check out the videos for the choir. The prelude “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing” was striking as well as “How Great Thou Art at the offertory (not on video).

This Sunday was the last in the “Family Vacation” series. This week it was Hawaii, specifically Molokai and those like Father Damien who treated people afflicted with Leprosy. Many were dumped on Molokai without any resources. The videos contain Catherine’s presentation. Catherine had cited Damien’s example in a October 18, 2015 sermon specifically a modern day example of Isaiah’s suffering servant.

When Damien, a Catholic priest who had asked to be sent to this colony to care for the people there, arrived on the peninsula in 1873, he found people who were covered in filth. They had no medical supplies to help them care for the gaping sores that ravaged their bodies.

People died quickly in the early days of the settlement because of the primitive conditions, and at death, they were wrapped in rags and thrown into a ravine where the wild pigs feasted on the decomposing corpses. Those who were alive “robbed one another, and abandoned the nearly dead.” Hope was non-existent.

Because even infants were sent to the island, by 1883, Damien had forty-four children in his care. He started orphanages for these children, one for boys and one for girls part of an extensive building program. He taught the people who were well enough how to farm On October 11, 2009, Benedict XVI canonized Damien, and he became one of the saints of the Catholic Church.

The lectionary and sermon provided words for the conclusion of the Season of Creation.“In the beginning.” The Season of Creation lectionary started out with these words. In this last week of the Season of Creation, the writer of Proverbs describes Wisdom as present throughout God’s process of creating the heavens and the earth. The writer of Ephesians describes our place in creation as God’s beloved children, adopted through Jesus Christ, and “with wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

In the Gospel according to Luke, two discouraged disciples have left Jerusalem and are traveling to Emmaus, when they meet a man who interprets to them all the thing about himself in the scriptures, for they are walking along with Jesus. With the day nearly over, they invite this stranger to come in and stay with them, and when they sit down at the table, and the stranger breaks the bread, the two recognize Jesus. They immediately get up and return to Jerusalem, where they tell the others what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. Even though night has fallen, a new day has begun for the disciples, for they know now that the Lord has risen indeed! And so they begin their journey anew, in the light of the Risen Lord.

The sermon used the idea of “connections” to address the lectionary. The idea was from an article from the magazine Science that connected wildlife habitats are one of the best ways to preserve biodiversity. “Plant extinctions were reduced by 2% annually and the colonization of new plant species shot up by 5 percent each year, with no sign of stopping.”

“So today, as this Season of Creation closes, we find ourselves back at the beginning once more. The writer of Proverbs tells us that Wisdom, who we have come to know as the personification of Jesus, was there at the beginning. “When there were no depths I, Jesus, was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.” And then Jesus joins in the act of creation at the beginning. Jesus is there beside God, like a master worker, and Jesus is God’s delight, rejoicing before God always, rejoicing in God’s inhabited world, and delighting in us, the human race. God and Jesus rejoice in one another, in their connectedness. They rejoice in the connectedness with all of creation, and they rejoice in their connectedness with us.

“The story that we’ve just heard from Luke’s gospel is a story about disconnection, connection and then reconnection with the whole.”

“We feel joy when we come together in His name, connected with one another the great story of God’s love throughout scripture, and through our own love for God.

“Jesus himself connects us with one another when we find him present in our midst as we break the bread and pour the wine and share it together, connected around God’s table, so that we can then go share God’s love with the world, working to reconnect what has been lost and disconnected.

“And when we come together in God’s name to reconnect with creation itself, the creation that God calls good, the creation that God dwells within, the whole creation that God will gather in at the end, the insects, the birds, the creatures, the trees, the oceans and rivers and the earth itself,

“God will rejoice as we work to reconnect all that we have broken and divided. And we will find joy and rejoice ever more deeply and fully as God reconnects all of us in the fullness of time into God’s new creation– as it was in the beginning, and is now and ever will be, God’s world without end. ”

Proverbs 8: 22-31

About five centuries before Jesus, a Jewish sage compiled a collection of his people’s wisdom. He wanted to make other Jews proud of their heritage and eager to know its truths. As an introduction to the collection, the sage wrote what we know as chapters 1 through 9

The verses of this poem place her at the moment of creation, where she is present as YHWH orders chaos, and creates the earth and all that is in it. 

The author personifies wisdom as a woman, focusing on her participation in creation. There was no time when God’s wisdom did not exist. This poetic description offers a way to understand Jesus as the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30), through whom “all things came into being” (John 1:1-3) at creation. Wisdom’s main joy is found among humans, for they are the crown of God’s creation. 

The author is trying to show us that wisdom is more than practical knowledge. Rather it is a spiritual being whom God created first and made his partner in the work of creating everything else. If the reader believes that, then the prospect of possessing wisdom will be most attractive.

The actor is clearly God, and the observer is clearly Wisdom. In that capacity she communicates to humankind God’s joy in her, and God’s joy in the human race as well. 

What is unspoken here, in the choice of this reading for this Feast of the Holy Trinity, is the presence of all three persons of the Trinity – the creating God, Wisdom/Christ, and the breath – the Spirit. 

Proverbs 8 counsels a spirituality and ethic of joyful attentiveness. . God delights in beauty, God has fun in creativity, the poet of the universe rejoices in the creativity of creaturely life. If God has a bias toward joy and playfulness, then these are values we should also pursue in our personal and corporate activities. Spirituality is about fiery passionate love of the earth, not otherworldly withdrawal. 

Psalm 146

This psalm, along with four others, composes a final doxology that completes the Psalter.. This is a song reminding us to put our trust in God and in God’s faithfulness, not in earthly rulers.  we can trust God (unlike our rulers vs.3-4), because he is the creator  and faithful sustainer  of the whole earth (v.6), and because of his justice for the oppressed, hungry, prisoners,  blind, bowed down, strangers, orphans and widows (vs.7-9). 

Psalm 146 has the form of an individual thanksgiving but invites participation by the congregation. The promises of freedom and sight echo the signs of the expected Messiah. 

The psalm begins with a note of praise and then quickly turns to a comparison of the God who brings life, and the human existence that always ends in death. The psalm calls for an unwavering trust in the lord’s goodness, power and sovereign reign in the midst of outwardly dark and painful conditions. As the psalmist in this reading exhorts himself, he exhorts his readers to praise God with their whole beings. The following verses then depict (in a style reminiscent of wisdom literature, and of some of the sayings of Isaiah) what it is that God does in the midst of the human situation. The psalm ends with a note of praise that is used in a prayer of thanksgiving in Acts 4:24. 

Ephesians 1:3-10

Ephesians is a letter about living together in the midst of human differences. The author writes as a Jew to a largely Gentile audience with the message that in Christ God has “made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (E

Before the author goes on to describe this situation and advise the recipients how to respond, he first stops to thank God for having placed us in this situation to begin with. Ephesians 1:3-14 is actually one long sentence extolling God’s action. The verbs in vv. 3-10 name God’s action,

God is praised in these verses for having chosen and adopted the church as God’s own people. Verse 4 states that “God chose us” to be holy and blameless, and verse 5 adds, “he destined us for adoption as his children.” The verb in verse 11 “we have obtained an inheritance” is difficult to translate but also carries the sense of having been appointed or chosen for this inheritance. The author pours out praise to God for having chosen us.

Adoption was not uncommon in antiquity. Among the elite it served the important function of allowing for an heir if one had no children, or if one’s children died. The adopted person (who could be a child or an adult) gained social status through association with the parent’s social status. In the same way a biological child would, the adopted child benefitted from the social and political connections of their parent. They also gained wealth through their inheritance. In return the adopted child honored the parent through taking the parent’s name and being loyal to them.

Similarly, adoption by God is a blessing for which the author praises God. It is an action planned by God (vv. 5, 9, 10, 11) and also pleasing to God (“according to the good pleasure of his will,” v. 5). It results in the praise of God (vv. 6, 14) by the adopted ones, who have a share in an inheritance from God (v. 14).

This people God has chosen includes both Jews and Gentiles. At the end of the passage the author describes himself as part of one group that was “the first to set our hope on Christ” (Ephesians 1:2), alongside another group including the recipients of the letter “who also heard the word of truth…and believed in him” (v. 13). God graciously adopts not a single child or even a group with one ethnic or religious identity. Instead, God chooses and adopts a diverse group of people.

Although God is the primary actor who is praised in these verses, Christ appears throughout the passage as an important part of God’s plan for adoption. God chose us for adoption “through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5). God gave grace “that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved”.  

Luke 24:13-42

Jesus Christ rises from the dead (before dawn) and makes five appearances on the day of His rising. These verses are #3

1 To Mary Magdalene [given a message to the disciples]

2 To the other women who come to the tomb [intending to complete the burial preparation of His body]

3 To two disciples on the Road to Emmaus

4 To Simon Peter [nowhere recorded, but alluded to in Luke 24:33 and 1 Corinthians 1:5]

5. To the astonished disciples [Thomas is absent]

Cleopas and an unnamed companion encounter the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem on Easter Sunday. One of the key parts of the story is that the two companions were not apostles, not part of the inner circle. Just everyday people. In all of the other resurrection experiences, Jesus appears to the group around Jesus.

The reason they are going is not disclosed but they encounter a man they don’t recognize who is Jesus. The men are shocked that anyone could have been in Jerusalem and not known of the events that have happened there.  “Abide with us,” they ask the unrecognized stranger, “for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”   It was not until they offered Him hospitality and He blessed and broke the bread that they recognized Him. He soon disappeared. They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

Luke 24 is often seen as a model of the journey that Jesus makes with us today.   He opens our eyes, points us to the Word, and reveals Himself along life’s walk as the resurrected Savior and Lord.  One of the things the story teaches is that Jesus cares for our hopes and your dreams.  Mission is part of the journey. The two individuals went back and shared their faith experience with the community.  We should consider it part of our mission  to restore what was created for us in the beginning