Minnesota Episcopal Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations

Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Proper 21 Creation Homily


Creation Homily:

by the Rev. Sandy Obarski, Gethsemane Episcopal Church, Minneapolis, MN, October 1, 2006

In our diocese today, we are beginning a month of celebrating the gift of Gods creation and our role in it. As we focus on creation we will recognize and celebrate the world we live in. When we read Psalm 19 together this morning, we read a glorious statement describing Gods creation.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows Gods handiwork. One day tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another. Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard, Their sound has gone out into all the lands, and their message to the ends of the world. In the deep has God set a pavilion for the sun; it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber; it rejoices like a champion to run its course. It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens and runs about to the end of it again; nothing is hidden from its burning heat.

As I am speaking to you there is nothing I can say that speaks of the heavens declaring the glory of God, more than the silent speech we are given everyday when we observe Gods creation. It is a reminder of the love and power of God. A God who gives us everything we have, including ourselves, as Gods gift. God is the One who is giver of all being, the author of life, the maker of heaven and earth. Every creature that exists is a startling, wondrous, and utterly surprising event of Gods giving life. In love and freedom God chooses to call into existence that which has no existence. We exist because God delights and chooses that we all exist as Gods free gift.

God is God because God freely wills to pour out existence to the Son, Jesus, who is Gods Son by lovingly giving the life-giving Holy Spirit back to God and all of us. It is this Trinitarian life that is the wondrous reason why there is a universe at all, rather than simply nothing.

We, as humans, have gone our way searching for equality with God instead of receiving the gift of creation lovingly from the Giver. Humanity is that part of creation, which is supposed to give harmony to all other earthly creatures. We are to speak for them the Word that God is speaking for all. We have forsaken our role and no longer give voice to every creature under heaven. It is through the revelation of Gods word in the Bible that we are called to how creation needs to speak anew. It is in new creation, as co-creators with God we are partners with God in creation.

I would guess most of us think of Gods creation as we observe the trees, sky, sun, moon, plants, animals, and all that is in nature. Yesterday members of this congregation worked indoors and outdoors during the Fall Clean Up to prepare the building for the winter. One of the projects was to remove some of the growth in the areas outside of the building to prepare for the spring planting of flowers and shrubs to enhance the beauty of our church building. As we are doing those activities we usually are thinking of bringing more of the beauty of creation to our surroundings. Do we think of our surrounding buildings and our church building as part of creation?

When I recently read Matthews Foxs book, Creation Spirituality, I was exposed to an entirely new way of viewing creation. Matthew Fox was looking out from the 18th floor of a hotel room in New York City when he asks the question, What is a brick? Then he answers. A brick is clay raised up eighteen floors by humans. And what keeps the bricks up? Steel girders also gifts of the earth. Then he went to the windows and looked down. Below him were numerous taxicabs, all made of steel, also from the bowels of the earth. The taxicabs are running on tires made from rubber trees and fuel from the dead plants and animals from millions of years ago. This city of Minneapolis and this building, the Church of Gethsemane as awesome places as they are are also earth. The earth recycled by humans who themselves are earth standing on two legs with movable thumbs and immense imaginations.

Creation spirituality is as much a city experience as a rural one provided we are willing to look for the source of things and the relationship how we can become and are co-creators with God. Creation is all space, all time-all things past, present, and future. Whether the future presents itself as more beauty or as more pain depends on our choices as we respond to our role as co-creators in an ever-unfolding creation. Creation is in many respects what our species makes of it here on earth.

In this mornings gospel we are told about an exorcist who is removing demons in Jesus name who is not among their group committed to the Christian cause. Jesus is upset with the disciples for condemning him. In the first verse of the gospel John said to Jesus, Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us. The disciples divide the world, as we all do, easily, into us and them. Jesus then answers in the form of a proverb. Whoever is not against us is for us. He then clarifies this to mean that anything done in Jesus name will be rewarded. The story explains that any feeling of factions or triumph within the body of those who would be followers of Jesus is not acceptable. Jesus is telling us faith is ultimately a gift and not an achievement. Any positive service, however small and insignificant, will be rewarded. Praise is not to be reserved for any in-group, including the disciples or us who are members of a church. These verses are instructions on discipleship.

The instructions were given as Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem and his own death. The disciples had betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus, the Messiah. It was, also, a misunderstanding of their discipleship. When responding to this, Jesus clarifies the nature of discipleship, making clear that it demands following after him in service, a servant ministry. Jesus needs to be at the center of our understanding and faith in our daily lives.

As we read the newspaper, listen to the news, and watch the scenes on television we are reminded constantly how our world is changing. We are told of changes in temperature patterns as the subject of global warming is discussed. Industries have changed their patterns of discharging waste into the air and water. We in the Twin Cities, are beginning to use light rail and express buses to lessen the fuel emissions into the air we breathe. Our churches are reminding us more and more of the gift of Gods creation and our role in creation.

The Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota has provided Creation Season Liturgy and activities to be used during this month. They are active within the diocese in many ways, from their quarterly meetings, to resolutions, to theological reflections.

There are a variety of environmental agencies in the state of Minnesota working to use our human and earth resources to be co-creators with God. The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance is involved in product stewardship. All parties involved in designing, manufacturing, selling and using a product take responsibility for environmental impacts at every stage of the products life. Minnesota Power is a nationally recognized leader in environmental protection. The Agriculture, Food, and Environment Extension of the University of Minnesota addresses crop and livestock production systems that are profitable, sustainable, and environmentally sound and safe. Environmental education is taught in our schools in daily curriculum and adult education classes. These are only a few examples of the activities of many organizations with similar goals. We are all part of working together to be co-creators with God.

In this mornings gospel Jesus said to His disciples, Whoever is not against us is for us. Members of many denominations and religions are all creating together, with our immense imaginations given to us by God, to preserve this earth, all its inhabitants, and the entire universe. Only by respecting one another and living and working together in peace, can we continue to be co-creators with God, through the grace of God. AMEN.

The following reflection was originally released on the website of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota on October 4, 2006.
Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Proper 21:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
Semi-Continuous Track
Gospel Theme Track
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Esther 7: 1-6, 9-10; 9: 20-22
Psalm 124
New Testament Reading:
James 4: 7-12 (13 5: 6)
James 5: 13-20
Mark 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48
Mark 9: 38-50

In 1996, starting with Lectionary Year B, the MEESC launched a multi-year project to complete reflections and comments on the earth-centered aspects of the Lectionary readings. Major work on filling the gaps in this page will be undertaken each time we are in Year B; however, input is accepted at any time. Starting with Year C in 2006, readings from the Revised Common Lectionary have been included.

If you would like to contribute, please see the directions below.

We are looking for your input!

To provide your comments and thoughts to a reading without any comments, please send an e-mail to any member of the MEESC or our Webverger or send a letter to:
MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

This page last updated 2006-10-12.

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This page last updated 2012-09-24.

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