12 Pentecost/Year C
Sept 1, 2019
Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14: 1, 7-14
September 1st is the World Day of Prayer for Creation, which kicks off the start of the Season of Creation that continues through October 4th. It’s a time for people of faith to be intentional about living out one’s faith in caring for creation, by praying, advocating, taking action that calls our attention to the web of life and our interconnectedness to God, one another, and all of God’s creatures and all of God’s treasures in the world around us…the good earth, the trees, the mountains, the oceans and the rivers, all of this…that nourishes and sustains us all.
In today’s scriptures, we are reminded that there are so many times throughout the ages, including now, in our present time, that God’s people have forgotten who has created them, who they belong to, who has blessed them, who has given hope to their hearts, who has brought them time and time again, into a land of plenty, and abundance, with more than enough to share with one another…People have forgotten, the One, who created them, out of love, to love one another, and all of creation…and have forgotten, that the care of this sacred earth and all of its people, have been entrusted to each one of us. We have forgotten, at times, that we were created out of God’s love…as a message of God’s love to the earth…and as a prayer from the earth back to God.
And we have argued and have disagreed, about who knows God and who does not; where God is, and where He is not; who should and should not be invited to the dinner, who should sit in the place of honor and who should not; who is worthy, who is not… as was evident in our gospel today; we have neglected to show hospitality to one another, and neglected to love one another, as God has so generously loved us.
The good news is this: that today is a new day…a new day to turn our hearts once again towards God, remembering that we were created out of God’s love…as a message of God’s love to the earth…and as a prayer from the earth to God...
It’s a new opportunity to do good, as we heard in our Hebrews reading…and to share the love and blessings we have received… to give thanks to God, in ways that show that we love one another, and share with one another, and encourage one other to care for all of God’s beloved creation…a gift from God…and extravagant gift from God…
When we get back to these basics…the very beginnings and purpose of creation…we are reminded…that we are all connected and united by the love of God, in this web of life that nourishes and sustains us all….and welcomes all to the table of God’s love, the festive banquet that has been spread out for all to enjoy… an extravagant gift from God..
Let me share a short story, about a wise old turtle…who reminds us of our interconnectedness with all of creation…and teaches us about seeing God and loving God, in each other, and in all of creation.
STORY: OLD TURTLE, by Douglas Wood
Once, long, long ago….yet somehow, not so very long…when all the animals and rocks and winds and waters and trees and birds and fish and all the beings of the world could speak….and understand one another…
There began…AN ARGUMENT.
It began softly at first…
Quietly as the first breeze that whispered,
“He is a wind who is never still.
Quiet as the stone that answered,
“He is a great rock that never moves.”
Gentle as the mountain that rumbled,
“God is a snowy peak, high above the clouds.”
And the fish in the ocean that answered, “God is a swimmer, in the dark blue depths of the sea.”
“No,” said the star, “God is a twinkling and a shining, far, far away.”
“No,” replied the ant, “God is a sound and a smell and a feeling, who is very, very close.”
“God,” insisted the antelope, “is a runner, swift and free, who loves to leap and race with the wind.”
“She is a great tree,” murmured the willow, “a part of the world, always growing and always giving.”
“You are wrong,” argued the island, “God is separate and apart.”
“God is like a shining sun, far above all things,” added the blue sky.
“No, He is a river, who flows through the very heart of things,” thundered the waterfall.
“She is a hunter,” roared the lion.
“God is gentle,” chirped the robin.
“He is powerful,” growled the bear.
And the argument grew louder and louder and louder…until…
It rumbled loudly, like thunder.
And it whispered softly, like butterfly sneezes.
The voice seemed to come from…
Why it seemed to come from……Old Turtle!
Old Turtle hardly ever said anything, and certainly never argues about God. But now Old Turtle began to speak.
“God is indeed deep,” she said to the fish in the sea; “and much higher than high,” she told the mountains.
“He is swift and free as the wind, and still and solid as a great rock,” she said to the breezes and stones.
“She is the life of the world,” Turtle said to the willow. “Always close by, yet beyond the farthest twinkling light,” she told the ant and the star.
“God is gentle and powerful. Above all things and within all things.”
“God is all that we dream of, and all that we seek,” said Old Turtle, “all that we come from and all that we can find.
Old turtle had never said so much before. All the beings of the world were surprised, and became very quiet. But Old Turtle had one more thing to say.
“There will soon be a new family of beings in the world,” she said, “and they will be reminders of all that God is.”
“They will come in many colors and shapes, with different faces and different ways of speaking.”
“Their thoughts will soar to the stars, but their feet will walk the earth.”
“They will possess many powers. They will be strong, yet tender, a message of love from God to earth, and a prayer from the earth back to God.”
And the people came.
But the people forgot. They forgot that they were a message of love, and a prayer from the earth.
And they began to argue…
About who knew God, and who did not; and where God was and was not; and whether God was, or was not. And often the people misused their powers, and hurt one another. Or killed one another.
And they hurt the earth.
Until finally even the forests began to die…and the rivers and the oceans and the plants and the animals and the earth itself…
Because the people could not remember who they were, or where God was.
Until one day there came a voice, like the growling of thunder; but as soft as butterfly sneezes,
The voice seemed to come from the mountain who rumbled, “Sometimes I see God swimming, in the dark blue depths of the sea.”
And from the ocean who sighed, “He is often among the snow-capped peaks, reflecting the sun.”
From the stone who said, “I sometimes feel her breath, as she blows by.”
And from the breeze who whispered, “I feel his still presence as I dance among the rocks.”
And the star declared, “God is very close;” and the island added, “His love touches everything.”
And after a long, lonesome and scary time….the people listened, and began to hear…And to see God in one another…and in the beauty of all the earth.
And Old Turtle smiled. And so did God.
This is God’s dream for his people…and all of creation. That we remember we are a message of love from God to earth, and a prayer from the earth back to God.”
Let us pray: (season of creation prayer 2019)
Creator of Life,
The Earth is full of Your creatures, and by Your wisdom you made them all. At Your word, the Earth brought forth plants yielding seed of every kind and trees of every kind bearing fruit, the waters teemed with swarms of living creatures of every kind, and world was filled with every kind of winged bird, walking animal, and creatures that creep upon the ground.
Mountains, plains, rocks, and rivers shelter diverse communities, and through the changing seasons Your Spirit renews cycles of life.
During this Season of Creation, open our eyes to see the precious diversity that is all around us. Enlighten our minds to appreciate the delicate balance maintained by each creature. Inspire us to conserve the precious habitats that nurture this web of life.
In the name of the One who came to proclaim good news to all creation, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Instrumental Music after sermon: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Rev. Julie Platson
St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church