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Earth Sunday

By Rev. Alice Hansen

 

Psalm 23: 1-3                                              

Psalm 104: 24-31a   

 

Reading 1     Collecting Light    Deborah Cooper from a workshop “Interfaith Poetry for the Journey” at Bethlehem Center, Nanaimo, BC

           

Listen for themes of love, of openness and awareness.  Notice the images of light and mending the world…reflected in the sky, in each other. Watch for tangible love expressions. 

 

I wonder what it means for a bird to call you friend.  How does love come through such a friend as this?...

Love that comes through the patient drivers waiting for a cat to safely cross a road (the turtles at Cool’s Pond)?

The gentle son laying the shawl on his mother’s lap…

Every scrap of light a part of the mending of the world. 

When have you received/offered scraps of light? I wonder how these scraps together helped to mend the world.

What scraps of light would you add? 

 

Imagine being part of this ‘divine force’, this sacred energy.  This week we can, you and I BE sacred energy, a divine force.

 

Reading 2     A Song of Faith      

 

Read highlighted verses.   

 

Anyone recognize where this comes from? These phrases are ageless for me! We open ourselves to awe, to wonder, to the beauty of creation and its mystery.  Awe, sacred scripture teaches, is the beginning of wisdom!  And we respond in the singing of …

 

HYMN            VU 27 Creator God You Gave Us Life  

 

READING 2  Richard Rohr 

When God manifests spirit through matter, then matter becomes a holy thing.  The material world is the place where we can comfortably worship God just by walking on it, loving it, and respecting it.  Everything visible, without exception, is the outpouring of God.  What else could it really be?” 

 

“I am saying that each living thing reveals some aspect of God.  God is greater that the whole of our universe, and as Creator inter-penetrates all created things (panentheism)”

 

To see the holiness just by walking on it, loving it, respecting the ground beneath our feet.  To imagine seeing everything visible as the outpouring of God, of love’s force, of the Christ in a blade of grass, a spider web, or a starling…to enjoy all these things as holy. What a alternate viewpoint we could witness to in the world that needs/longs for an alternate message.  R.R. points out that it is the power of such ordinary things that ‘save us’, that help us live in the Source of all being.

 

 (if time, personal: I love to feel the spongy earth response along a forest walk, to breath in the peace discovered as I sit quietly beside a lakeshore in the early morning, or in the darkness to look up and let the twinkling stars against the night sky, ‘save’ me – to reboot me, refresh me, resurrect me. Concrete, tangible light experiences that touches my very being.)   

 

 Wisdom includes real connection to nature.  Society’s sense of isolation and unhappiness is compounded by our lack of contact with nature.   Nature’s tangible expressions of God’s love heals and restores what is broken.  It offers moments of awe and wonder – and I think of the 1.5 M people along the path of the eclipse out in nature, gazing up and filled with the awe those few moments offered.  So many rebooted, refreshed in tangible love expressions. 

 

Reading 4     from our Sacred Scriptures

 

The story of Easter is the story of love made tangible -   in the hands and feet of the Risen One for the sake of the doubting ones, tangible in the walking together of friends along a dusty path, tangible around a breakfast gathering beside the seashore.  You and I need to taste, to feel, to touch, to smell, to see and the intangible God understood this and made love real, alive, concrete, in the natural revelation.  The logos or Word becoming flesh John’s gospel opens and then unfolds, revealing tangible love in the person of the Jesus. 

 

Sacred Scripture    We recognize many familiar tangible love expressions in well-known readings from the Hebrew scriptures…the Psalms.

 

Psalm 23: 1-3                                              

Psalm 104: 24-31a                                    

Leader: May these words open us to the Spirit’s presence.

Response: And may wisdom come to us this day.

 

And it all began…Out of the topsy-turvy, chaos and emptiness of Genesis 1 – the Creator formed the earth and sky, the seas, seeds of every kind, the seasons, days and years, light, the greater one to illuminate the day, the lesser one to illuminate the night …and God saw that this was good. 

                                                 

As we reflect on this goodness, I wonder:  How will this goodness be realized in the generations yet to come?  What is the human responsibility in the midst of the environmental devastation of this century, this decade.

 

Reading 3      

Chief Seattle, 1854

                        Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.  Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother.  The rivers are our siblings; they quench our thirst and feed our children.  The air is precious to my people, for all things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, humankind, they all share the same breath …This we know.  The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth.  Humankind did not beave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it.  Whatever humankind does to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are connecter like the blood which unites one family.  All things are connected.

 

Robin Wall Kimmerer, contemporary Potawatomi botanist, reminds us of our place in

nature and our responsibility.  

“Many indigenous peoples share the understanding that we are each endowed with a particular gift, a unique ability…. a gift that is blessing and responsibility. If the bird’s gift is song, Kimmerer writes, then it has a responsibility to greet the day with music. It is the duty of birds to sing and the rest of us receive the song as a gift.”

 

Centered in indigenous understanding Kimmerer reminds us that humans from the indigenous viewpoint, are lesser beings in the democracy of species… younger brothers of Creation and in his words:  we must learn from our elders, elders like plants who were here long before you or I.  They live both above and below ground, they hold the earth in place, they know how to make food enough not just to feed themselves but to sustain the lives of all the rest of us.  They are providers of generosity, always offering food. We must learn from our elders, the wisdom ones who have gone before us and who walk this path with us and open up the future for those who will come after us.  

Interesting questions are raised. Asking what is our responsibility is perhaps also to ask, What is our gift? And how shall  we use it?  What can we give back to a plant that gives us so much?  What will make the more-than-human creation glad that we are here?

 

Broadview The Climate Issue    

 

These same questions are raised in the recent edition of Broadview, the Climate Issue.  Acknowledging the difficult realities of this particular time, key questions raised include How are we doing and where do we need to go from here?  How do we stay focused given the enormity of the task?

 

When I was teaching French as a Second Language at the high school where I lived, I still recall the title of one chapter “reuse, reduce, recycle”.   We as individuals can and do respond. One of the articles, ‘Canada’s cold reality’ calls on us - as a land of immigrants and Indigenous Peoples with a global reputation for treating its citizens with respect, fairness, and dignity - we need to do a lot more as we seek to include the earth with respect, fairness, and dignity!  What stood out for me, the signs of hope lay in community action. One article points to hope arising through a much broader base of voices together seeking to renew the face of the earth...Collective wisdom… Another writer reminds us that even as the problems are getting worse, the solutions are getting better!   We cannot afford to give up hope.  For the sake of humanity and the Earth community now and in the future, it’s time to reveal our better selves. 

 

Reconciliation includes the environment – to see the Earth with sacred eyes, as holding personhood.  To embrace all creation in one holy web.  Therese Decamp writes I am a  beloved, entangled being, a part of a web of beloved, entangled beings.  

 

Slow down for a few moments today, this week and let gratitude for this earth rise up in you… discover once more the Christ within you, and in all living things.  Everything around us holding a core of this Christ Spirit, of beauty itself.  Hold the Earth, touch it, love it just a bit more, in light of God’s love and be grateful, discover hope in action together.    

 

Hymn             Vu 135            Called by Earth and Sky

 

We are invited to commit in a faithful response to playing a part, however small, in building a world of care for the Earth, seas and skies through... 

                       

Earth Prayer (UN)   United Nations Environmental Sabbath Program, an Earth Prayer

 

We join with the earth and with each other:

            to bring new life to the land

            to restore the waters

            to refresh the air

We join with the earth and with each other:

            to renew the forest

            to care for the plants

            to protect the creatures

We join with the earth and with each other:

            to celebrate the seas

            to rejoice in the sunlight

            to sing the song of the stars

We join with the earth and with each other:

            to recreate the human community

            to promote justice and peace

            to remember our children

We join together as many and diverse expressions,

            of one loving mystery

            for the healing of the earth and

            the renewal of all life.      

 

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