Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Upcoming Activities:

Next Meeting:

Friday-Saturday, March 31-April 1, 2006 at St. Andrew's by-the-Lake Confessor Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN

Special Project for 2006:

Mary Brown Environmental Center in Ely, MN Details now available.


Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations

On our Website:

Environmental Events:
Special Project for 2005:

Lectionary Reflection

For Forest Sunday

Year A, Proper 18

The notes and reflections on this page are part of a request from David Rhoads, Professor of New Testament, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, for MEESC members to offer ecological sermon notes for the alternative lectionary lessons for Creation Season Sundays in 2005 for use by pastors. This is the first of the selected Sundays, September 4, 2005, which corresponds in the Lectionary used by the Episcopal Church as Proper 18.

In the "alternative lectionary lessons" of the Revised Common Lectionary, the readings are Ezekiel 33:7-11, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20, and Psalm 119:33-40 (please click on the links to read the texts).

Psalm excerpt for today (Psalm 96, vs 12)

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

Sermon note for Forest Sunday by the Rev. Tom Harries

Possible directions for a sermon:

One could pick up Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing Although we humans like to think of ourselves as the highest and most important creatures, all of creation is in relationship with the Holy One. The trees, and all the plants of the forest, glorify God in their beauty, and love their neighbor by providing food, shelter and oxygen. Many people receive the love of God through immersion in beautiful forest settings. We can show Gods love to the forest in return by protecting and caring for it.

Here one could use the story of the monk who was distracted from his meditation by the frogs. So holy was he, that when he yelled at them to be silent, they were silent. But then he began to wonder if the croaking of frogs might be more pleasing to God that the silent meditation of a monk. Finally he went back and told them to sing again.

For those who are comfortable with it, Process Theology provides a way of talking about how God is present as the influence for creativity, variety, and interrelatedness at every level, down to the smallest microbe. Higher levels of complexity provide greater flexibility in response to God, so that, for example, mammals are able to play, and care for their young more fully that reptiles.

Tying in to the assigned readings:

The RCL readings for this Sunday are not too congenial to a sermon on environmental spirituality, but there are a couple of possible connections.

If you look past the threatening language, the Ezekiel passage portrays Gods insistence that the prophet warn Israel of her impending danger, whether they want to hear it our not. This might serve as encouragement for us to speak up about the dangers inherent in our destruction of forest lands.

Matthew 18:15-20 has a similar theme, this time giving instructions on how to approach one who endangers the community. I would summarize it as saying we should begin gently, but be persistent in attempting to correct them.

The Rev Tom Harries, is Co-Chair of MEESC and resides in Richfield, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2005. Tom and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Tom Harries or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55734-4400 USA

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This page last updated 06-02-23.

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