As we just heard Maggie read, nine centuries ago, a saintly woman was writing of her concerns about creation? Clearly concern for creation care is not a new concept. In fact, most of the Babylonian Talmud, which we just heard Brad read a few minutes ago, was compiled between the third and fifth centuries CE, and the reading tells of planning for generations to come. It speaks of care and forethought for those who will follow us on this earth. Now we see that concern for God’s creation and its healthy future was part of scholarly thinking 16 centuries ago. 1
What does all of this mean to us? If we choose not to counter what we have been doing, especially since the Industrial Revolution, we place ourselves on a path toward the destruction of God’s beautiful creation. As members of a faith community, and followers of Jesus, what is asked of us?
Is it a part of our faith to care for God’s creation? Clearly Bishop Douglas Fisher believes it is. He appointed as Missioner for Creation Care for the Diocese of Western Massachusetts Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas in January of 2014. Reverend Bullitt-Jonas travels around preaching, speaking and leading retreats. In fact, she preached at Saints James and Andrew on April 24 of this year. She expressed her gratitude to Bishop Fisher for the appointment stating, “I am grateful to Bishop Doug Fisher for offering me this opportunity to express my faith in a God who loves and redeems all Creation.” Rev. Bullitt-Jonas goes on to say, “I am very interested in the ways that religious faith can move us beyond fear, hopelessness or despair as we face the reality of climate change. I also believe that religious communities and leaders have an important role to play in shaping this country’s growing climate movement.” 2
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry includes in his description of the Jesus Movement the following: “As the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, and followers of Jesus’ Way, we seek to live like him. We’re serious about moving out to grow loving, liberating, life-giving relationships with God (evangelism); to grow those relationships with each other (reconciliation); and to grow those relationships with all of creation (creation care).” 3 As one of the three major focuses of Bishop Curry’s plan for our larger church, clearly he considers creation care to be part of our responsibility. I would like to suggest some first steps toward becoming real stewards of God’s creation.
Throughout sacred text, from the creation in Genesis until today, we have been told and shown that we are God’s children. We have been forgiven and urged forward time and time again to help us see the way we should travel. We have continued to make mistakes, from the time of Cain and Abel through to the gun violence and creation destruction of today. Yet God
continually gifts us with God’s love, giving us new chances to get it right. Sometimes God sends children, like Malala and Greta Thunberg to show us what courage and dedication to a just cause look like. Sometimes God sends leaders like our presiding bishop to urge us onto the right path through words and actions. And sometimes God makes it even simpler than that. Have you ever ventured out your door and suddenly been confronted with a sunset so beautiful it takes your breath away? Or been a passenger in a car and realize that the view from the side window is truly magnificent? I believe that these are God’s way of showing us the beauty of God’s creation so that maybe, just maybe, we will be moved to prevent its destruction.
As adults, we often live life very disconnected from nature moving through life at a rapid pace just trying to get things done. Maybe the first step on our journey to creation care is to become more childlike, taking the time to really see what is around us. Children look at the sky and see magic, while we often only look at the sky to determine what to expect from the weather. In order to rekindle our love for God’s creation, we first need to really see it. Lay in the grass and look at the clouds passing by. Try to see them with the eyes of a child, and notice what they look like to you. A dog? A boat? An angel? What you see matters far less than that you see. Find a brook and look at the life that exists there; put your feet in the moving water. These are
just some of God’s creation miracles. There is a field on our way home that is filled with the light of fireflies in the summer. They never cease to amaze me. We live out of town just a bit, and I love the sound of the peepers. We can’t see them, but we can certainly hear them. And did you know that those kind of ugly water bugs actually become beautiful dragon flies?
Surrender to the awe.
God’s creation is filled with beautiful miracles, some of which we take for granted or miss completely as we move through our lives of work and worry; of the need to succeed; of believing that getting stuff will somehow help us to feel better. Jesus was never wealthy. Instead he was a man moving through life with his eyes and his heart wide open. For us to be true followers of Jesus, we may need to slow down, to be in the moment; to pay attention as we move through life. We may need to notice all the little miracles in order to rekindle our love for God’s creation. As a friend of ours said concerning how we act in the world, we need to show up, be truly present, tell the truth, and let go of the outcome. We cannot predict what
will happen if we spend our love seeking to care for God’s creation. All we can do is our best. But we are God’s hands and feet, voice and heart in this world, and God is counting on us to care for God’s creation.
In closing, I’d like to share a brief prayer with you from southern Vermont blogger Kellyann Wolfe:
'You were made for this earth, and this earth was made for you. Go forth to love and serve it, knowing in your deepest heart that you are blessed from the beginning of time. In the name of the One who called all things good. ' Amen. 4
1 Library of Congress, World History Collection
2 Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Episcopalnewsservice.org, January 2014
3 Bishop Michael Curry, episcopalchurch.org
4 Kellyann Wolfe, blogger, A Dirty Mind: Spirit and Body, Intellect and Earth
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