During September our services are focusing on our stewardship of creation. This is Rev John Rackley’s sermon preached on 13th September.
What is Creation Time?
In 1989 the Ecumenical Patriarch suggested that 1 September, the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Church year, should be observed as a day “of protection of the natural environment”.
Ten years later the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) widened this proposal, urging churches to adopt a Time for Creation stretching from 1 September to the feast of St Francis on 4 October and this was endorsed by the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania in 2007, which recommended that the period “be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change”.
Pope Francis made the Catholic Church’s warm welcoming of the season official in 2015, using powerful words last year to encourage participation in the ecumenical Season after of Creation:
“This is the season for (1) letting our prayer be inspired anew by closeness to nature… (2) to reflect on our lifestyles… (3) for undertaking prophetic actions…directing the planet towards life, not death.”
I place care for creation and taking on the consequences firmly within the enjoyment of our planet and universe– its beauty, diversity, and mystery. The old hymn is right:
There is a beauty in each hour, a beauty in the skies, in the love in our life and what we see and hear which creates delight for heart and mind.
In the book of Job the Creator challenges the distraught believer:
“where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth and when the morning stars sang together?”
And sing they do – in 2017 astronomers in Birmingham discovered that a cluster of stars, 13 billion years old, buried within our galaxy was ‘singing’. Stars make sound naturally and this gets trapped, like the sound in a musical instrument. As the star resonates, because of the sound inside, it ‘breathes’ in and out becoming by turns lighter and dimmer.
The Jewish prayer is right
How wonderful, O Lord, are the works of your hands.
The heavens declare your glory.
In your goodness you have made us able to
Hear the music of the world.
The voices of loved ones reveal to us
That you are in the midst.
A divine song sings through all creation.
I want to place care for creation and taking on the consequences of climate change firmly within the enjoyment of our planet and universe– its beauty, diversity, and mystery.
I also place it firmly within the faith which arises from trust in Jesus Christ.
It is not an add-on for those interested in that sort of thing. It is not just that Jesus was a nature –lover. His resurrection was a signal that we are called to re-fashion the fabric of the world into the likeness of his kingdom until the new earth and new heaven is revealed.
Pope Francis ended his communication with an invitation for us to turn Towards life, not death’
We see this in the Song of Solomon 2:8-17
The poem fizzes with the joy of new love, embracing the delights of youth and creation. The lover leaps over mountains – all is perfect harmony. Spring has come, the flowers are in full blossom – what is there not to like? And two people mirror the renewal of life in their love for each other.
Here is a serene blend of human delight and the beauty of the earth. It is as it is meant to be.
But it is not the world we live in. The land has been defiled, forests destroyed and seas and rivers polluted by plastic.
It should be no surprise that it is the younger generations who have been galvanised by the voice of an articulate Scandinavian teenager. She and the OT poem speak from the same song sheet – the harmony is precious – it is being lost.
Only after the last tree has been cut down;
Only after the last river has been poisoned;
Only after the last fish has been caught;
Will you find that money cannot be eaten.
A Cree Indian prophecy
The joyful delight of the poem of Solomon contrasts with the parsimonious attitude toward forgiveness in the words of Peter in Matthew 18. He thinks that forgiveness is something that can be calculated – so when the 50th time of forgiveness is over you can revert back to an unforgiving attitude.
Jesus highlights this crass misunderstanding of forgiveness in his parable of the unforgiving slave. Forgiveness which does not come from the heart is no forgiveness at all. It is not life-giving.
So here is the question with which we can address every part of our life be it our church membership, our part of in family life, what we do with our money, how we re-cycle, purchase, spend, save –
Is it life-giving or death-dealing?