Sunday, September 13, 2015

This is the air I breathe - sermon in the season of Creation - Sky Sunday

This is the air I breathe     
Welcome, Sulfur Dioxide   
This is the air I breathe
Hello, Carbon Monoxide
Your Holy presence
The air, the air
Living in me is everywhere.
This is my daily bread
Breathe Deep
This is my daily Bread
While I sleep
Your very word
Breathe deep
Is spoken to me.
And I am desperate for you,
And I am lost without you.
This is the air I breathe
Bless you, alcohol blood stream
This is the air I breathe
Save me nicotine lung steam
Your Holy Presence
Incense, Incense
Living in me, is in the air

This is my daily bread
Breathe Deep
This is my daily Bread
While I sleep
Your very word
Breathe deep
Is spoken to me.
And I’m cataclysmic ectoplasm
And I’m fallout atomic orgasm
Desperate for you
And I’m vapor and fume
I’m lost at the stone of my tomb without you

And I breathing like a sullen perfume
Desperate for you
Eating at the stone of my tomb
I’m lost without you,
Looking rather attractive
I’m lost without you,
Now that I’m radio active
I’m desperate for you,
Just watch me spark
Cry out to live
I glow in the dark
I am desperate for you
Breathe deep
I’m lost
While I sleep
I’m Lost
Breathe deep
I’m lost without you

This poem is a mash up of this is the air I breathe by Michael W. Smith and Air from Hair by James Rado, Gerome Ragni.  It is actually the first thing I thought of when I knew I had sky Sunday.  The imagery that these two images bring about can be, and I hope it was, disturbing.
When I used to drive into Los Angeles from Palm Springs it would strike me as I came over the one hill and looking into the basin of Los Angeles there was a yellow/brownish haze just hanging over the city.  The air is everywhere and this is the air we breathe.
The original Gospel assigned for today speaks of the sky turning dark for 3 hours as Christ hung on the cross.  I choose instead the reading where Christ actually says red sky at night sailors delight red sky in morning sailors take warning…well more or less.
The other readings one is from Jeremiah and it says;
Jeremiah 4:23-28Common English Bible (CEB)

23 I looked at the earth,
    And it was without shape or form;
        At the heavens
        And there was no light.
24 I looked at the mountains
    And they were quaking;
    All the hills were rocking back and forth.
25 I looked and there was no one left;
    Every bird in the sky had taken flight.
26 I looked and the fertile land was a desert;
    All its towns were in ruins
        Before the Lord,
        Before his fury.
27 The Lord proclaims:
    The whole earth will become a desolation,
        But I will not destroy it completely.
28 Therefore, the earth will grieve
    And the heavens grow dark

And still a 3rd reading form the psalms says;
Psalm 19
For the music leader. A psalm of David.

19 Heaven is declaring God’s glory;
    The sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
2 One day gushes the news to the next,
    And one night informs another what needs to be known.
3 Of course, there’s no speech, no words—
        Their voices can’t be heard—
4     but their sound[a] extends throughout the world;
        Their words reach the ends of the earth.
God has made a tent in heaven for the sun.
5 The sun is like a groom
    Coming out of his honeymoon suite;
    Like a warrior, it thrills at running its course.
6 It rises in one end of the sky;
    Its circuit is complete at the other.
        Nothing escapes its heat.

There is a theme here which is the voice of creation, or more specifically the way which
The sky not only announces and celebrates God’s presence, but also sympathizes with
Creation when it suffers.
Have you ever watched the skies when a storm was brewing, black clouds rolling?
In like wall after wall of waves? Have you ever had a sense of God’s presence in?
The storm or God’s voice in the thunder as many ancient peoples did? (Note
Psalm 29!) Have you ever sensed that eerie feeling that comes during an eclipse?
When all the animals are spooked?
Why is the sky so important to us? Our moods seem to change with the weather—
When the sun shines we are likely to be happier than when darkness covers the sky.
Why? What does the sky mean to us? Is our faith influenced by the sky or related to
The sky in some way?[1]

It is interesting to note that in general when the Old Testament refers to heavens the original Hebrew could be translated as sky or skies, and really that often works better, for me anyway for then the air around us, above us and beyond us.  All of this space is where God dwells.  God is living, according to the Old Testament, here between us.
 We take God in…This is the air I breathe.  We exhale God…This is the air I breathe.  We harm and foul God with pollutants form cigarette smoke to exhaust from Coal mines and power plants.  We made the Earth a member of our congregation and yet we walk in God daily.
In Jeremiahs vision he sees an enemy about to destroy all that God has created.  As a matter of fact the season of creation author describes it this way;
“. The
Disaster he sees coming is so destructive he depicts the event as if it were a reversal of
The original acts of creation. To understand this vision we need to return to the events
Of Genesis One. Consider the following:
Compare v. 23 with Gen. 1.1: Return to pre-creation – all is ‘waste and void’
Compare v. 23 with Day One: No light in the sky
Compare v. 25 with Day Five: No birds in the sky
Compare v. 26 with Day Three: No vegetation comes from the land/Earth
Jeremiah’s vision turns the whole of the original creation process upside down. This
Portrait, moreover, is more than a metaphor.”[2]

If we look around us we can see this destruction happening around us every day.  Fires are wiping out acres of vegetation.  Drought is devastating our state.  In other parts floods and mudslides are wiping out villages where glaciers are disappearing, and ocean tides are rising. Jeremiah ends his vision by predicting the earth will mourn the sky will turn black.

I have seen the sky turn black and the sun disappear due to the big fires in Oakland.  I have seen the sky turn from a haze to a dark orange to fill with soot due to nearby fires.  Jeremiah has laments where he speaks further of the earth mourning and the land crying aloud to God.  I believe in many cases this is happening today.  The land is crying out and some are listening.

The author of the Seasons of creation sky Sunday bible study tells us; “We have created a hole in the ozone layer. By excessive use of various sprays and chemicals we have released chlorofluorocarbon molecules into the atmosphere. In the stratosphere chlorine atoms escape from these molecules and attack the ozone molecules. The resulting ‘hole’ first appeared over the South Pole, but the ozone layer is thinning over other continents. Because of this thinning, UV rays from the sun have now increased and so have skin cancer rates. (though , due to changes we have made,, in a study released this summer if we stay the path the ozone may heal by 2070)

There are many ways in which we have polluted our skies. The combustion of fossil
Fuels in factories and cars produces a host of noxious materials that fill our skies. One
Of the common effects is smog. Air pollution is no longer a crisis we can avoid.”[3]

I must say we are getting better but our dependency on fossil fuels is still way too high.  We are still in the very early stages of switching from more hybrid and fuel cell cars but I believe we are getting there.  We, as you know, have most of our electricity generated from the sun. 

People have shrugged at solar energy claiming it is a flash in the pan or not viable.  But I still wonder what would happen if we required every new structure to have solar panels, or at least every government building. “In full sun, you can safely assume about 100 watts of solar energy per square foot. If you assume 12 hours of sun per day, this equates to 438,000 watt-hours per square foot per year. Based on 27,878,400 square feet per square mile, sunlight bestows a whopping 12.2 trillion watt-hours per square mile per year.”[4]  We have yet to begin to access all the energy around us.

Of course the biggest problem with this is someone will lose money.  Someone else will make money.  The energy companies, the way many stand, are losing money as solar becomes more popular.  The gas companies are losing money as responsible organizations and people are divesting form them.  They try to block advances that will better our environment at every turn.  It really is a shame. Yet, in spite of all that, the LAPD announced today they have just bought 137 electric cars!
Finally the author I have been sharing with you form seasons of creation goes on to remind us
 Many of us have been conditioned to think that only humans communicate the mysteries of God. We do not expect other parts of creation to have a voice like that of humans. Butterflies do not talk. Trees do not sing the way we do. Skies do not communicate.

Psalm 19 indicates just the opposite. Many Psalms, like Ps. 148, celebrate the way trees sing, fields rejoice and the rest of creation praises God. This Psalmist invites all creation—including sea monsters and storms—to praise the Creator!

Sometimes we think this kind of talk is but poetic language, giving human voice to non-human reality. Psalm 19 suggests that the voice of creation is more than a poetic way of praising God. All creation is here communicating about—and with—the Creator.

In this Psalm the sky proclaims good news in its own way, not a human way. The sky is the mediator of God’s word. The sky announces two things—the vibrant presence of God and the creative work of God.[5]

Unfortunately over the city of angels the sky often mourns and warns of the troubled air.  The sky becomes distressful for those with conditions and young people on certain days as the particle count is just unsafe.  We must listen to God in heaven, God around us, God in us, between us and remember.  This is the air I breathe. This is the air we breathe. Amen.

[1] Norman Habel, Good News from the Sky, accessed September 8, 2015,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ecoworld magazine, Http://, June 14, 2006, accessed September 8, 2015,
[5] Habel, Good News from the Sky.

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