In Our Care

Apr 22 2018

IN OUR CARE

 

“In the beginning, God created…” The Hebrew Lesson that you heard this morning was selected verses of the Creation story as it begins the first book of the Bible. I would like to share with you three stories of creation, written in different parts of the world, at different times, yet every one of these stories can fill us with a sense of grandeur and awe at this world in which we live on a planet we call earth. All of the stories convey a certain respect for the earth.

“A few thousand years ago, in two locations on opposite sides on the world, two people offered us lasting stories using art and poetry. 

In the heart of a sandstone canyon in what is now Utah, an unknown artist daubed pigment against the stone again and again, until a slender figure emerged in radiant auburn hues.  Soon other figures emerged to join the first.  Finally, the artist completed the work that portrays a host of figures, human and animal, representing the creation of the world in a visual story that contains the essence of language, myth and primal song, a song of the origins of the world. 

Thousands of miles away, at nearly the same time, a disciple of an old man we know as John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was writing on the Greek island of Patmos. He paused, looking at the drying ink on the parchment before him.  The words he had just penned stated, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word, was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” This song of creation is full of wonder and amazement at the notion that God has been speaking from all eternity through everything that exists.

In a more recent story, J.R.R. Tolkien, wrote about the Creator God in The Silmarillion, his prequel to the Lord of the Rings. The story starts with God giving a charge to the angels, who were the first beings God made, telling them to make music.  The angels responded, but, for a long time, they sang individually, for each of them understood only a part of the mind of God.  Yet, as they continued to sing they started to hear each other.  They came to deeper understandings and their music increased in unison and harmony.  

Then God called them together and revealed a mighty theme, far beyond anything he had yet revealed.  He then told them to bring to this new song their own thoughts and devices, but to do so in harmony.  As they sang, he listened to their song, a sound of interchanging melodies woven together in a way that it passed beyond hearing filling the places of their dwelling and overflowing into the void.  

But, as with many stories of creation, this beautiful music caught the ear of a malignant force, an angel named Melkor. Through his meddling the music faltered, falling into disharmony and soon it ended.  God stepped in and rebuked Melkor. He then showed the angels the new world, a globe in the void, which they had created with their song. This world contained not only their offerings of song, but also so much more that God had added to their harmonies.  Together, the angels and God had sung into life an entire, amazing world.” (Excerpted from a sermon preached by Michael Stifler on Earth Day, 2015)

In these three stories, art, poetry and song portray the creation of our world where the life giving force of God imbues everything that is created.  This world is full of beauty and balance, wherever our actions have not spoiled it.  And again we come to the question—what can we do individually and collectively to address the problems WE have created?

Almost fifty years ago, twenty million Americans gathered in schools, universities and communities to proclaim the first Earth Day.  At one of those events held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Barry Commoner, expressed his four laws of ecology: 

Everything is connected to everything else. 

Everything must go somewhere. 

Nature knows best. 

And, environmentally speaking, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

 

He urged the people to consider these laws as they faced the loss of wild lands and habitat, severely damaged soils, poisoned water bodies and choked atmospheres.  He emphasized that wherever we exploit nature we convert resources from useful to useless, damaged goods.

Today, as we gather to celebrate Earth Day almost fifty years later, we can ponder – how bad is it now, and what can we do to save the earth in this century?

At a time when a significant number of politicians decry the science behind a phenomenon we call global warming, and at a time when the head of the EPA is not only not doing what he can to try to save the earth, but is lifting important safeguards, what can we do?

At a time when the governor of Michigan feels that enough progress has been made in Flint so he can stop sending in bottled water and a portion of the residents can again begin drinking lead-tainted water, what can we do?

As people who believe in God, as people who are called by that God to care for the land, as people who should be holding the land sacred, we can all do a little. And when many do little, it can turn into much.

We cannot hold back technology or industry. We can take the items that we use as a result of the technology that seeks to make our lives easier, and in treating the earth with respect, recycle. We can plant trees and flowers so that when rain falls upon the earth, they will grow, and those plants will send oxygen back into the very air that we breathe. We can actively compost. We can realize that as children of God, we ARE called upon to do whatever we can to honor Mother Earth and to help her survive.

We can honor the plants and waters around us. We can honor the atmosphere that gives us the air we breathe and stop polluting it simply so certain companies can thrive. As a result of their greed, all of God’s creatures, us included, will suffer the consequences of those who are unwilling to help preserve our environment. We can honor the animals on whose lands we have encroached for years and live in harmony with them. Ultimately, we are all called to honor the earth and everything that lives on it, in its waters, or flies through its air.

The earth was here long before we were. God willing, it will be here long after we are gone. But while, for a brief moment, we inhabit the earth, may we have the willingness and the courage to preserve it for future generations. Amen.