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
|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
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
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.