(Job 12:7-12; Revelation 21:1-6) – J G White
11 am, Sun, Nov 4, 2018 – UBC Digby
I think I have wanted to give a ‘trash talk’ for some years now. So I brought a trash bag for the sermon today. Let’s see what we do with the garbage.
This is not what we used to do with our garbage. We have come a long way since I was a child, and it all went in one bag to a dump on the edge of town, or got burned or buried in the backyard.
This matters to the God we worship here: how we take out the trash. How we recycle, and reuse. And how we shop for the things packaged in all this, to begin with.
God is the Lover of all creation.
Next June a couple of people will be touring the Maritimes, giving talks and sermons about ecology. I look forward to what Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow will share.
But is this one of our priorities? Isn’t God’s project on earth all about Jesus? All about human souls and salvation and eternity? ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ thru’? Many believers look to the future hopes of Revelation, in the Bible, and see that this world, with its problems, is temporary. John, of the Revelation, hears a holy Voice in his vision say: “See, I am making all things new!”
It makes sense to me for us to do now with earth and sky what the apocalypse will do for it in the future: give a new heavens and a new earth. If all the Bible poetry that hopes and trusts in a peaceful kingdom inspires us, surely we can come as close to it now as we can. Some examples are in the book of Isaiah. We can read of the beautiful kingdom, where the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom. (Is 35).
I think also of the great moment when the Temple in Jerusalem was dedicated by King Solomon. After the great day of prayers, we read in 2 Chronicles (7)
12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
If the people will humbly pray and turn from their wicked ways… the land will be healed. Sometimes, our best prayers – and answers to prayers – are in our hands, in our own actions. If the ideal – and God’s own vision of creation – is beauty and not garbage, then surely we can live into that hope now, without things being perfect?
Let’s sort some more trash and be inspired…
Our consumption, and our waste, matter to our Saviour, now. So with John the revelator, we can see that vision of new heavens and a new earth, and be inspired to live in better ways here and now.
As you know, I believe in a local church as a little spiritual community that cares for creation. My own vision for Church that I articulated to you in January of 2017, has four points. 1. Increase our mission. 2. Decrease our maintenance. 4. Discipleship. 3. Creation Care: be a congregation that is always improving how we live in the natural environment in which our Creator has placed us. I reiterated this in my annual report to you back in January of this year.
Think again about this goal: always improving how we live in creation. I hear my Master calling us to this. I hear the scriptures calling to us. I hear creation call out to us. There is an inspiring vision of new heavens and a new earth today. Not just for ‘the end’ of the world. For today.
When a fellowship of Christians values creation more and more, I see several benefits. It is good for creation: we stop trashing it! It is a good value to have because doing better and making a difference is truly possible! We also have a role in our culture to inspire and educate others to reuse, recycle, and respect the whole earth. And, the Good News about Jesus’ Kingdom is comprehensive, total, all-inclusive: saving the whole person, the whole community, the whole planet.
We are about to have this simple, monthly ceremony we call the Lord’s Supper. And what are we doing? Taking physical bread and real grape juice and sharing them. Things that grew from the earth, things that were not human, but are life-giving. We remember that our faith tradition proclaims that whatever God is, God becomes a human, completely a human, within the physical creation. God enters and joins the earth. For the sake of us all.
What is God like? God is like Jesus. And Jesus was one of us, an animal here on this planet. May He inspire us to live well in our time together here. May Christ lead us to make a difference in this critical age. May Jesus’ own sacrifice for our lives change they way we live in every way: from the way we talk about God to the way we take out the trash.
In the name of the Creator, the Child, and the Spirit. AMEN.