Loving God’s Creation: Planet Earth Sunday 9/2/12

Genesis 1:1–25

In the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Easter we celebrate the life of Christ. In the season of Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Spirit. Now, in the season of Creation, we have an opportunity to celebrate God, the Creator. I learned about this suggestion of having a season devoted to celebrating God the creator, from the curriculum that I follow called Seasons of the Spirit

My sermon series in September – for these first 4 weeks – will be “Loving God’s Creation.” Today, we begin at the beginning with our reading of the Genesis creation narrative. It is a beautiful poem that forms us and informs us of who we are in relation to God and God’s creation. Our second reading this morning is from the naturalist Annie Dillard. It is an excerpt from her wonderful book, Teaching a Stone to Talk.

Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard

“At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, the world, Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, Listening.

“After a time you hear it: there is nothing there. There is nothing but those things only, those created objects, discrete, growing or holding or swaying, being rained on or raining, held, flooding or ebbing, standing, or spread. You feel the world’s word as a tension, a hum, a single chorused note everywhere the same. This is it: This hum is the silence. The silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega.  It is God’s brooding over the face of the waters; it is the blended note of the ten thousand things, the whine of the wings. You take a step in the right direction to pray to this silence, and even to address the prayer to ‘World.’ Distinctions blur. Quit your tents. Pray without ceasing.”

September 2, 2012

Loving God’s Creation: Planet Earth Sunday

One of the sites Cathy and I visited in Montreal during our wonderful vacation in Canada, was a big building called the Bio-dome. It’s a zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden that reproduced 5 habitats from rainforest – hot with parrots and toucans, monkeys and cranes to moderate St. Lawrence climate with a baby lynx to a freezing climate with arctic penguins and auks. It was amazing to experience such a variety of God’s creation in one place and one afternoon.

We had a sense of caring for the natural world and creation in a deeper way than we find down here. Bike lanes have barriers so they are much safer than down here, and you can rent a bike for $7 for 24 hours that you can ride for half an hour most anywhere in the city, then pick up another bike to ride on to another place. The bikes are called ‘Bixie’ a combination of bicycle and taxi. It was a great way to get around Montreal.

They were in the middle of their political season just as we are – only theirs is much shorter and more civil than ours. Maybe we can take a lesson from them, as we pray for more unity and sense of purpose during this campaign season.

So we turn to Genesis – the very beginning of our Bible, where our understanding of God’s creative power and grace forms and creates us. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth; the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.”

We have to start by asking what kind of story we are reading. Is this history – a literal account of how the earth began? (this view is championed by people suspicious of science who want to respect every part of the Bible as literal truth.) Or is it mythology, that announces what always been and always will be true about the world (a view which is championed on the other hand by people who want to harmonize the text with scientific perceptions and who seek to make the texts rationally acceptable.)

What we want to do is take a third path – rather than reading Genesis as history or as myth, we read it as proclamation, proclamation of God’s relationship to creation, a proclamation that in fact helps to create us, helps us to know who we are. We do not aim to tame the words of Genesis, but rather, as Annie Dillard, suggests, to stand before these words and let them make our prayer life bigger, more filled with awe and delight, more inclined to listening.

So we listen to the proclamation that God has a powerful purpose for God’s creation. We’re not here for nothing. Creation is not a careless, casual, or accidental matter. [Brueggemann, Genesis, p. 17] God has something in mind for creation, so God speaks. All through this passage in Genesis God’s speech is creative. God speaks and light happens. God’s word brings moon and stars, sea and land, birds and fish into being, and God calls each of them “good.” God proclaims unity of purpose, and a purpose in the unity of all God’s creation.

In coming weeks we will look at how humanity fits into this purpose and this unity, and God responds to human brokenness and disavowal of God’s intention for creation. Each week in these 4 weeks (and at the beginning of each school year) we will continue to

1. Celebrate Earth as a sacred planet filled with God’s vibrant presence.

2. Unite with all creation in praising the God of creation, (rainforest, woodland, and glacier)

3. Confess our sins against creation and empathize with a groaning creation.

4. Embrace our kin in creation as our extended family.   5. Proclaim the good news that the risen Jesus is the cosmic Christ who fills and renews all creation.

6. Go forth on a mission to be partners with Christ in the healing of creation.

I invite you to the communion table this morning with the intention of listening to God’s voice and God’s calling on your life, to listen for God’s unifying purpose as you eat and drink the products of God’s creative energy – the bread and cup that nourish God’s way in our lives. May this bread and cup renew us for this season of our lives so we can handle every crisis with the awesome power and presence and reassurance of God’s love and grace, God’s abundant creative power.

Communion Hymn: 2059 I Am Your Mother