Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Shield of Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

Upcoming Activities:

Next Meeting:

We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

Special Projects for 2006:

Mary Brown Environmental Center in Ely, MN

Creation Season Materials


Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Proper 26

Readings for this Sunday may be found on the Lectionary Site.

Reflection on the Readings for this Sunday

by the Rev Margaret W. Thomas

As human earthly life evolved, folks domesticated animals. Hunter and gatherers became farmers, and herders. Religions were also domesticated. Natural life cycle stories and rituals which had been passed along in oral and bodily forms of dances, actions and feasts, were codified, and written , condensed and blended together with those of other cultures. Holy places emerged into shrines and rituals were often moved into buildings which may or may not retained symbolic connections to the past.

Jesus' life, death and resurrection resulted in some major shifts in the religions life of the time. Jesus used many stories and examples about and within the natural life of his time. Vineyards, herding sheep and goats, grain growing along with the fishing were common themes. Folks whose lives were so close to the animals of that time and place, knew the flora and fauna as neighbors.

While human neighbors are always around, and certainly seem to be the prime subject of the codified laws, humans have not ceased to have relationships with animals, either natural of domestic. As my own golden retriever nudges me and bounces her ball in the kitchen until I walk her, I am aware of the faces pictured of starving children in the Millennium Development Goals presentation at our recent diocesan convention. As I walk in the fall woods and witness the bird migrations, I wonder if their winter roosts will be filled with new coffee plantations or condos for those humans who enjoy exotic foods and drinks and the humans who also migrate.

Humans seem to need relationships with animals. There are all forms of animal relationships. There are the local, intimate bonds as well as global connections. Therapy dogs are common visitors to care and rehabilitation facilities. A bird feeder outside a nursing home window can bring great interest and fish tanks in dentists offices can ease children's anxiety. These occurrences are now well documented. We eat meats from all over the nation, and globe if we eat ocean fishes or imported snails or such treats. We enjoy the deer at our bird feeders, yet we dislike their dead carcasses on the roadsides.

The phrase about animal worship may have been a reference to the different way to connect with Jesus in ritual and prayer, If Jesus was the link between God and humans, animal sacrifices were no longer needed. However, in some cultures animals were partners in human life. They were more like neighbors and friends.

Much effort was made by some of the gospel writers to connect the Hebrew and the Jesus stories. The lectionary lessors from Deuteronomy and Mark bring the written Torah law and the ultimate commandment of Jesus together for reflection. The old stories will not survive without the parallels and connections being pondered and posed in light of the gospel of Jesus and the reflections from todays world. The new stories are shallow and may be confusing without the wisdom and depth of the old stores. It is up to us to wrestle with them. I also need to be responsible about the balance between the golden retriever and the hungry children of the world and my own city.

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Proper 26:

Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Deuteronomy 6:1-9
no reflection available
New Testament Hebrews 7:23-28
no reflection available
Gospel Mark 12:28-34
no reflection available
Reflection on the Readings for this Sunday
this page

Rev Margaret W. Thomas originally wrote this reflection in 2006, when she was a priest serving as Associate Rector at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN. Margaret and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Rev Margaret W. Thomas or 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

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This page last updated 2006-11-01.

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