Sunday, September 22, 2019

Jesus is broader.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Then we get the argument that we hear about in this Gospel.

“The conversation is getting more and more difficult. In verse 41, the crowds who had made such efforts to find Jesus after he had crossed the lake begin to grumble (NRSV translates this as "complain"), just as Israel in the wilderness had done (for example, Exodus 17:3). Their complaint in verse 42 focuses on the difficulty caused by their own presumed knowledge of Jesus. They conclude that he has not come from Heaven, because they know his parents. Familiarity is breeding contempt. One who has been among them cannot possibly be what Jesus claims to be.”[1]

John is using very symbolic and figurative language to try to explain Jesus’ origins and just how Jesus relates to those seeking him.  Jesus cannot possibly be from heaven let alone God for we know his parents.  You and I can no more be spiritually engaged or have an eye for the mystical because we are from…where are you from?  Where are you from?

I mean, I am from Detroit when was the last time something good came out of Detroit? besides lays potato chips!

So, this is where I break from a restrictive reading. I believe if we read this text in the context of Johns Gospel it leads to a unique place.  Let’s recall the opening of Johns Gospel;

In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him and without Him not one thing came into being. (John 1: 1-4)

Through the opening words of Johns Gospel and todays text I see a place where we can honor all faith and all people and all of creation.  For if everything came into being through Christ then all, each one of us are of Christ. Jesus is our Bread from Heaven but there are other wise sources or spiritual food who come to the earth and other practices and believers find their spiritual food if you will who also were created through the word, therefore are of Christ.

Though we have our differences, among ourselves as UCC, as Methodists as unitarians and among Christians. We as people who follow Christ, in a world made up of “4,200 religions. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect.”[2] There is a belief of the Golden rule, all faiths have a thread of ultimate truth that runs through them. Just as all were created through the word, just as the Hebrews ate of Manna in the desert, which literally translates to what’s that? All of creation, the stars and the planets, life here and elsewhere were created through the word.  Have eaten of the spiritual food that comes in many different forms.

Dr. Ernest Holmes wrote in 1948;

“We should waste no time in futile arguments as to what religion or spiritual outlook is right or wrong, but gladly accept the evidence of anyone’s prayer and faith as a demonstration of that person’s belief. Too much time is lost in arguing whether or not one’s philosophy is the only correct one, her religion the only true one, his method of procedure the only effective one. Let us leave these arguments to the contentions of smaller minds and try to find the thread of Truth running through all systems. Let us build on the affirmative and forget the negative.[3]

Do not panic, I am not negating Christianity.  You are in the right place, the right pew, you are where you need to be and where you are called to be just as I am. 

What is it we are called to? We are called to love all and so it runs through the faiths and practices of many in the world.

Sikhism says; “Be not estranged from one another for god dwells in every heart” (SRI GURU Granth) Sahib

Zoroastrianism; “Human nature is good only when it does not do unto Another whatever is not good for its own self” (Dadistan I Dink 94:5)

Islam; “No one is a believer until you desire for another that which you desire for yourself.” (Sunnah)

Judaism; “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor That is the entire Torah the rest is commentary go and learn” (Rabbi Hillel to Shammai Talmud Shabbat 31 A)

Jainism; “In happiness and Suffering in joy and grief regard all creatures as you would your own self.” (Lord Mahivir 24th Tirthankara)

Bahai; “Blessed are those who prefer others before themselves” (Bahai’u’llah Tablets of Baha’ uallah 71)

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:13) 

What I am saying is that this Gospel reading and Johns whole Gospel points to a Christ Larger and broader than we really understand. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God! And all things came into being through him” (John 1:1-2) well that kind of puts away any chance we have at diminishing any one! That also puts all creation on a level playing field. All creation and that means not just the lonely blue marble we are living on, but includes all that which we can and cannot see, all the cosmos.

This is a cosmic Christ, a Christ bigger than any one faith or religion; Richard Rohr explains it this way;

“Understanding the Cosmic Christ can change the way we relate to creation, to other religions, to other people, to ourselves, and to God. Knowing and experiencing the Cosmic Christ can bring about a major shift in consciousness. Like Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9), you won’t be the same after encountering the Risen Christ.[4]

Christianity is just beginning to understand and learn of this.  Yet if we allow ourselves to flow with the Cosmic Christ that all things are created through then we can begin to understand and accept Jesus as Bread from heaven, a shepherd, as a gate keeper, as the way. for all the many metaphors used to describe that which is beyond comprehension. Richard Rohr goes on to explain; 

“The Cosmic Christ is Divine Presence pervading all of creation since the very beginning. My father Francis of Assisi intuited this presence and lived his life in awareness of it. Later, John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) put this intuition into philosophical form. For Duns Scotus, the Christ Mystery was the blueprint of reality from the very start (John 1:1). Teilhard de Chardin brought this insight into our modern world. God’s first “idea” was to become manifest—to pour out divine, infinite love into finite, visible forms. The “Big Bang” is now our scientific name for that first idea; and “Christ” is our theological name. Both are about love and beauty exploding outward in all directions. Creation is indeed the Body of God! What else could it be, when you think of it?[5]

Jesus even attempts to explain it; “I am the Good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” (John 10:15-16) If I have gone too far for you, tell me so, it is okay.  If I have not gone far enough, challenge me.  But I truly believe that John’s Gospel message today, this cosmos/cosmic Sunday is one of inclusion. The same inclusion we proclaim daily that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s Journey you are welcome here.  It is also why we proclaim this is an open table it.  This table belongs to no one and everyone for it is Gods table if you are a child of God you are welcome here.

Our challenge as Christians is to be the welcoming table at all times.  We are called to be hospitable first and then to go further. Christ is the gate through which many shepherds have gone, Christ is the word through which all creation comes. Christ the spiritual truth that transcends all comprehension, for the truth is as vast as the cosmos. Now we just have to honor that in each and everything and everyone.

Todays Psalmist proclaims 

4-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God!
    You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
    made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
    brimming with fish past counting,
    sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
    and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
    to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
    you open your hand and they eat from it. (psalm 104 vs 24-40 the MSG)

We have over the past few weeks explored God’s creation.  We celebrated ocean Sunday

The song of the waters reminds us;

Taste the moisture of the morning,
Smoother than the best red wine;
Toast the lifeblood of the planet:
Here’s to God’s wild wet design!
Sing a song of flowing waters,
Pulsing through the veins of Earth.[6]

We celebrated floura and fauna Sunday 

The song of the wild calls to us 

Will you come back with Me to the birth of the Earth, Before all its life forms evolved?
Will you sing with the heavens amazed at the sight: A planet with secrets to unfold? 
Will you praise,
Be amazed
With eyes as wide as a child’s? Will you praise,
Be amazed
And sing
The song of the wild? [7]

We celebrated Storm Sunday in which we sang out our faith 

Put your hand in the hand of the man
Who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man
Who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself
And you can look at others differently
Put your hand in the hand of the man
From Galilee[8]

And now on this the day we celebrate all the cosmos we are called t 

The cosmos hails the Christ, the One Who reconciles all things, 
‘til all creation rises new With healing in her wings. 
6. As Christ unites the universe, Restores this Earth once more, A cosmic song reverberates, A rich symphonic score.[9]

[2] Wikipedia, List of religions and spiritual traditions, April 27, 2017, accessed May 2, 2017,
[3] ] Barry Ebert, Teaching our Children Well, 2015, accessed April 2, 2017,
[4] Richard Rohr, e-mail message to, October 22, 2017.  Richard Rohr’s daily Meditation.

[5] Ibid

Sunday, September 15, 2019

God is in the Thunder

Today’s Psalm is a beautiful psalm Ps. 29 ‘God in the Storm’
Thunder, in this Psalm, is described as the voice of God, a powerful force that strikes Earth with great force, while the beings in the heavenly temple respond with the cry of ‘Glory’!”

Lets hear the psalm of David as transliterated through the Message

A David Psalm
29 1-2 Bravo, God, bravo!
    Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory,
    in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
    Dress your best to honor him!
3 God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—
God, across the flood waters.
4 God’s thunder tympanic,
God’s thunder symphonic.
5 God’s thunder smashes cedars,
God topples the northern cedars.
6 The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,
The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.
7-8 God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes;
He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.
9 God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
10 Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
    from which his power flows,
    from which he rules the world.
11 God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

“In today’s Gospel Jesus physically calms a storm and then asks the question “why don’t you trust me?”
In the Psalm Gods voice is in the thunder and flattens the cedars.  Now the image of a man telling the seas to calm and the storm to cease is hard to picture, but if anyone has seen pictures of mount St. Helen’s we know what flattened cedars look like.

There is a dichotomy in our souls when it comes to storms.  How many are in awe when they see videos of thunder and lightning or maybe a tornado in a field somewhere in a distance?  How many glue themselves to the flooding and the storm surge and the spectacle of a reporter in a hurricane.

There is a sense of safety and awe and beauty when we see a storm at a distance.  We are not affected by it.  I remember when I first entered the diocesan seminary in Detroit.  It was an old gothic building built in 1923 and the tower was about 7 or 8 stories high and, being the explorer, I am, I found the hatch that opened to the flat roof of the tower.  We could sit there and see an approaching storm from miles away with lightning bolts flashing against an enormous cloud.

It was safe to watch a storm from a distance but when it lands and the walls shake and the wind howls and the windows rattle, well, our perception changes. It becomes angry and threatening and we cannot wait for it to be over, especially if you ever had to sit in the basement listening to the am transistor radio waiting for an all clear from a tornado warning.

 Our ancient world often blamed the storms on angry God’s and yet those same God’s were also attributed with fertility in many cases.  Why?  Because rain brings new growth and feeds the crops in spite of it being terrifying.

However the Hebrews, from where our Jesus’ tradition and faith is rooted, “believed that God, without any detriment to God’s majesty, Makes God’s presence known even through the force of nature…The Israelites envisioned God as one who reveals God’s self through the sudden and the unexpected, the terrifying and awesome forces of nature, namely the thunderstorm and lightning.”

Often storms are attributed to God’s wrathful response, with an image of a vengeful God. I know how that must feel. Lord knows my LGBTQ community gets blamed for every storm, flood and tornado that happens. That is except when it hits the home of a wrathful preacher.

In article from the religion exactly in the month of August in 2016“(RNS) comes the news that the Baton Rouge flooding destroyed Tony Perkins’ home and forced the Family Research Council president and his family to escape by canoe to their RV on higher ground.
Perkins revealed this in a special segment of his radio show a couple of days ago, describing the disaster as “a flood of near biblical proportions.”
There are those who have noted some irony here, since when Hurricane Joaquin threatened Washington last year, Perkins declared the storm to be God’s punishment for the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision.
That of course recalled the interpretations of Hurricane Katrina by Pat Robertson, John Hagee, and Yehuda Levin, as well as Robertson and Jerry Falwell’s explanation of 9/11, and so on.
These are what’s known in the trade as exercises in theodicy — justifying bad things as demonstrations of God’s goodness, omnipotence, and righteous judgment….Perkins, who in his interview stayed away from any speculation of this sort. The flood, he said, “is a great opportunity for the Church to minister.” The experience has taught him “what is important. Sometimes we get too occupied with the other things of life.”

I hate to say it but Tony Perkins got something right.  In the midst of the storm we need to trust God.  Jesus asked; “why don’t you trust me?”  I mean the disciples had Jesus right there with them, physically with them and yet, in the midst of a storm, they panicked.

In this day and age as we are seeing more extreme weather, more storms, more devastation instead of playing the blame game or getting all justified and righteous we need to see this for what it is.  God’s voice is in the thunder and this is our call not only to minister to others but to the planet herself.

The voice of God could not be any louder, could it?  Summer is hotter, fire season in some parts of our country is all year long, hurricanes are stronger, and floods are moving further inland.  Yet many do not trust that this is the voice of God calling all humanity into action.

I am not speaking of just the continued call to service and monies needed for refugees and victims of natural disasters but the call to reverse what we can and to try to limit the extent of human damage to the atmosphere, and the planet.

We have come a long way and, as I pointed out last week, we have lost species to extinction but we have achieved bringing certain species back from the edge of extinction, Such as the hump back whale, the tigers in western Thailand, the Burmese star tortoise, and the great adjutant storks.

“Unchecked collection of eggs and chicks, along with destruction of its flooded forest habitat, proved disastrous for the world’s rarest stork, the greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius). But with protection of the flooded forest on Cambodia's Tonle Sap (Southeast Asia's largest lake) by community rangers, the stork is on the up and up. The Cambodia Ministry of Environment and WCS created a program in which local people are paid to guard nests (rather than deplete them). In just a decade, the greater adjutant population has grown from just 30 to over 200 pairs – accounting for 50 percent of the global population of approximately 800 to 1200 mature greater adjutants..”

I am also proud to say that our government, at times, does it part.
“When he signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, President Obama marked the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation, designating more than 2 million acres of federal wilderness, thousands of miles of trails, and protecting more than 1,000 miles of rivers. In addition, the President has used his authority under the Antiquities Act 13 times to permanently preserve some of America’s most treasured landscapes and waters, most recently designating the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in Los Angeles County, one of the most disadvantaged counties in the country when it comes to access to parks and open space for minorities and children.”

I know this is a lot about president Obama but he has done a lot more than most if not all the past presidents for example he also has created the largest marine sanctuary in the world with a single signature he created a reserve that ended up “resulting in 370,000 square nautical miles (490,000 square miles) of protected area around these tropical islands and atolls in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Expanding the Monument will more fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.”   Yes this was just one man with a lot of power but each one of us can seek out ways to make a difference.

But even this administration somehow has managed to allow some protections to slip through and be signed into law.

“A fresh wilderness designation in southern New Mexico. A new national monument in Los Angeles. Hundreds of miles of river protected in Oregon. A ban on new mining projects on Yellowstone National Park’s doorstep. These were a few of the crowd-pleasers the Senate tossed, with Oprah-esque glee, into a bipartisan public-lands bill that passed on Feb. 12.”

Now I admit I do not trust this administration to completely follow through even though it was signed into law but this bill offers some hope as it Permanently Authorizes and Fundsthe Land and Water Conservation Fund, Protects National Parks From Nearby Mining, Protects Public Lands in Utah, Protects Connecticut’s Rivers
And it has 11 other provisions in it.

Saturday is beach cleanup day and over 500000 volunteers in 91 countries are expected to get together and clean up beaches.  “In 2018, volunteers collected a grand total of 127,983 pieces of trash that totaled 10,492 pounds…  the Coastal Program adopted a portion of the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge at Fabyan Point on Great Bay in Newington, through the Blue Ocean Society's Adopt-a-Beach Program and under the direction of a member of the management team at the refuge. Coastal Program staff committed to clean up this spot two times a year and to record the items collected on data cards provided by the Blue Ocean Society. Last year, staff conducted two cleanups, with one in the spring and one in the fall. The total pounds of trash collected was 538lbs, including some large bulky items like barrels and coolers. The Coastal Program is planning to continue its participation in the Adopt-A-Spot program.”

We have done a lot around here on the conservation side and we preach about it a lot but you know  I would encourage you , if you have never done it, take a ride up into the mountains take a look at what your tax dollars are protecting it is truly amazing.

Take a drive, a slow drive, along the coast and stop, just stop in a remote spot where you have just you and the ocean.  And if you do not hear the voice of God in the waves, or if you do not see the hand of God in a mountain sunset you are not listening or looking very hard.

Better yet the next time you see extreme weather or really feel the humidity that  sometimes seems to never end or are tempted to gripe about the snowfall we got because it seems like it’s just here to make life miserable.  Listen to what the voice of God is calling us to do.  Cry out in anguish and anger and fear then do something, hear Gods voice in the thunder and answer; “We trust you  God and we shall act accordingly!”  Amen.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Consider the lilies

“Fauna refers to all the living species on planet Earth—in the wild, in our lives and in our soils. In Genesis One, all living species emerge from Earth who is their common mother. In Genesis Two, the first human and all animals are created from clay and the breath of God. In Job 39, the kingdom of the wild is God’s special concern, no matter how remote or mysterious. . .
The kingdom of God and the kingdom of the wild complement each other, says Jesus. God provides for all and that should lead us to live in harmony with all and not be stressed about possessions and power.”[1]
Today’s psalm sings of God’s provision…
You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to use,[
to bring forth food from the earth,
15     and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
    and bread to strengthen the human heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has its home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
19 You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they withdraw
    and lie down in their dens.
23 People go out to their work
    and to their labor until the evening.
“Let me recite another passage from Job 12:7-10. God says,
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;  or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In the Spirit’s hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all humanity. 
The Psalm tells that the earth has its own language, a voice not heard but yet a voice that goes out through all the earth. In Job, God instructs Job that animals will teach, the birds of the air will speak to you, and the fish will inform you.  In both passages, God reveals that whole universe is God’s speaking in a language more ancient than any scriptures or their languages. Creation is a more primal scripture, and that is why Galileo speaks of the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture, both sources of God’s speaking to us.
“Have you taken the time to listen to the natural world speak? Each morning I walk my dog, I take time to listen to biophonic sounds of life and/or the geophonic sounds of nature, the raining falling down, the brook streaming below our home, or the wind, sometimes soundless, or the trees rustling in the breeze.  Have you taken the opportunity to listen to the Spirit speaking through the environmental souls of the natural world? For our indigenous peoples, the Earth and the web of life are our older siblings to us. They listen to the mountains, trees, plants, animals, the streams and lakes, and so on require that be attention to siblings around us.”[2]
Jesus in the gospel is telling us not to worry about how we will be provided for, because God provides for all and he mentions the Lilies of the fields.
“The poet Emily Dickinson, from her Congregationalist heritage, found God manifested everywhere in nature, and she considered her garden as church.  Dickson had in mind these words of Jesus when she remarked, “Consider the lilies is the only commandment I ever obeyed.”  The greatest commandment for Dickinson is consideration of the lilies of the field.  It is not a commandment in words but a living parable. Lilies find God in the present moment, in the air they interbreathe, their presence and sheer colorful beauty speak of God’s amazing artistry in plant life.  The lilies incarnate a spirituality for us by providing us physical and sensuous  connections to God in nature. Ecotheologian Jay McDaniel observes, “But the lilies also have something important to say not in words but in sheer presence. In their naturalness and spontaneity, in their receptivity to the breath of life, they embody the heart of spirituality. They find God in their present moment.”
There is a lesson to be learned. Dickinson reminds us that our deepest calling is to be totally open to God in a distinctly human way as the lilies do in a lilies way.
“Lilies transport us into amazement and wonder of our Creator. The lilies provide an example how to be open to God in their own flora ways. They are attentive to their Creator, dependent upon the natural gift of the Earth, sun, water, and often human care.  They greet the sun with a burst of color, giving praise to God and totally dependent upon God’s creation gifts. Jesus instructs his disciples to imitate the lilies.  Certainly, that is what caught the spiritual awareness of Emily Dickenson.
But a little more about Emily Dickinson. She often skipped Sunday morning at her Congregationalist Church for Sunday during the summer months for the church of her garden. She writes;”[3]

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – 
I keep it, staying at Home – 
With a Bobolink for a Chorister – 
And an Orchard, for a Dome – 

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice – 
I, just wear my Wings – 
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church, 
Our little Sexton sings. 

God preaches, a noted Clergyman – 
And the sermon is never long, 
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last – 
I’m going, all along.[4]
So I quoted my husband from a sermon he gave last week at the Nelson church but hey it was too good not too…
I am kind of envois of Emily Dickinson…if I could spend a day considering the lilies…I wouldn’t, I would rather spend the day considering the ocean, the river, the woods…I guess I like things a bit more, wild, not so controlled.
In today’s Gospel that is what Jesus is saying to me …let go, be wild, do not let worry and schedules and chasing the money consume you…God will provide.
In light of the theme of creation I cannot help but ponder the results of human worry and attempt to control.
We see the results in Toxic Algae blooms that are caused by fertilizer runoff into streams and ponds.  We see excessive cancer among landscapers and farmers who used round up on a regular basis. Coca cola is making millions by harvesting water, bottling it, and claiming they own it at the same time their plastic bottles are filling up our oceans.
“Our planet is warming faster than at any time in the past 10,000 years. With these changes, species have to adapt to new climate patterns (variations in rainfall; longer, warmer summers etc).
Global warming resulting from human emissions of greenhouse gases. The consequences include habitat loss; shifts in climatic conditions and in habitats that surpass migrational capabilities; altered competitive relationships.”[5]
It is scary what we have done in our greed and need to control and exploit our natural resources.
·       “The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.*
·       These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.
·       If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true - i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet** -  then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.
·       But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true - that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet - then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year.”[6]
My heart breaks at what we have lost, not just the species we know about, the ones we are about to lose less we do something about it. This isn’t political yet we have politisized the science.  
This is sacred.
We have been called to be the caretakers of this planet to be co-creators with god to bring god’s kindom here on earth as it is in heaven and we have only wandered father away from the kindom as opposed to closer.
According to the international Union for the Conservation of Nature; “here are now 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,306 of them are endangered species threatened with extinction. This is up from 16,118 last year. This includes both endangered animals and endangered plants.
The species endangered include one in four mammals, one in eight birds, one third of all amphibians and 70% of the world’s assessed plants on the 2007 IUCN Red List are in jeopardy of extinction. The total number of extinct species has reached 785 and a further 65 are only found in captivity or in cultivation. In the last 500 years, human activity has forced over 800 species into extinction.”[7]
If that isn’t the definition of sin I am not sure what is.  
All of this is overwhelming and many times it seems insurmountable and yet there are simple things we can do to love our planet and work to bring a just and eco friendly society about.
·       “Use Reusable Bags. Plastic grocery-type bags that get thrown out end up in landfills or in other parts of the environment. ... 
·       Print as Little as Necessary. ... 
·       Recycle. ... 
·       Use a Reusable Beverage Containers. ... 
·       Don't Throw Your Notes Away. ... At the end of the semester, students are often stuck with notes they don’t need anymore, especially from GenEd classes that had little, if anything, to do with their major. The good news is that teachers that teach GenEd classes have to keep their material consistent with guidelines from the college/university. This means that students next semester will be learning basically the same material you learned from a class. If you took great notes, ask your teacher to connect you with students in a future class so that you can give them your notes. These notes will help students by being able to read what they are learning in the words of another student. It is beneficial to read things that are worded differently than what the teacher said. You may need to find a student on your own, depending on the teacher’s load for the semester. It will feel great to help others taking the same class! You can list your notes on online college boards. While some may be willing to buy the notes at a price, it will feel just as good giving them your notes for free since you are helping them out! Also, other student organizations may appreciate notes. At the community college I attended, the Veteran’s Club had a separate building for resources. They had an area for textbooks used by students, and they could check the books out for a semester, and many people would bundle notes in with the books. Ask around to see if any organization has something like this. If you can’t find anyone to give the notes to, at the very least, recycle the paper you used.
·       Save Electricity! ... 
·       Save Water. ... 
·       Avoid Taking Cars or Carpool When Possible.
…and yet when we are overwhelmed by all that is happening in our world today. We can still be blessed by what God has given us. Take time to really be in nature, seek out god’s gospel in the air, the water, the animal and the plants around you. Breathe just breathe and know God is with us, God is providing us with new inovations everyday to help us heal this planet, our relations, and the way the world operates.
Someday soon we may very we’ll see God’s kindom on earth as it is in heaven if we just allow God in…and let God inspire and provide…amen.


[4]Emily Dickinson, "Some keep the Sabbath going to church" from (02138: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, )
Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Let us go deeper

Today is Ocean Sunday.  As I was researching for today’s sermon, I came across a good opener 
“Has anybody ever been close enough to the ocean to put your feet in? All right. All right. I want to hear what it was like. What do you remember about being at the ocean? 

Response: “Salty.” 
Response: “Cold.” Cold. The water is cold. 
Big waves.
Response: “Big waves.” Response: Buoyancy.” 

Buoyant. The salt water. Anything else? Response: “The sea’s roar.” 
The roar. It is the sound that you heard when you came in this morning. Response: “It’s very powerful” 

It’s powerful. It is very powerful. Anything else? Response: “The waves.” 
The waves. You ride them. Right. Okay. 

How many people here have been on the ocean, say, a naval vessel or a cruise, maybe? Okay. Lots! Cool. What do you remember about that? 
Response: “Seasick.” Seasick. That happens. 
Response: “Pollution.” Pollution. There is that, quite a bit. Anything else? 
Response: “Whales.” Whales. You saw whales. Very cool. 
Response: “Vastness.” Vastness. You see nothing but water out there. 

All right. Last question. Anybody here ever been under the ocean? Do I have any scuba divers here? All right. What do you remember about that? 
Response: “Beauty.” 
Response: “Different kinds of life.” Different kinds of life. So much of that. 

I have a couple of fun facts about the ocean. The ocean covers 71% of the earth’s surface in one global, interconnected body. There is one ocean. We call them by different names, but there is one ocean. 71% of the surface. It contains 321 million cubic miles of water, or 3.5 times 10 to the 20th gallons. The ocean, this one big interconnected ocean, contains 97% of the earth’s water.1 At its deepest point, the ocean is 6.8 miles deep.2 There has been a marine census, an actual census of marine life, and it estimates that there are about 250,000 different species in the ocean. But and here is the most amazing to me, less than 5% of the earth’s ocean has been explored. We know very little about God’s ocean. ”[1]

For this Sunday there are the traditional sets of reading recommended one includes a speech God gives to Job. This is the message version;

God Confronts Job

Have You Gotten to the Bottom of Things?
38 And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said:
2-11 “Why do you confuse the issue?
    Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about?
Pull yourself together, Job!
    Up on your feet! Stand tall!
I have some questions for you,
    and I want some straight answers.
Where were you when I created the earth?
    Tell me, since you know so much!
Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that!
    Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?
How was its foundation poured,
    and who set the cornerstone,
While the morning stars sang in chorus
    and all the angels shouted praise?
And who took charge of the ocean
    when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?
That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds,
    and tucked it in safely at night.
Then I made a playpen for it,
    a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose,
And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place.
    Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’

This is a beautiful image of the waters being Gods wild child birthed and wrapped in swaddling clouds.  But this also calls us out for honestly how much do we know about the ocean? Better yet how do we care for our sister the ocean?  You hear me using sibling language but the scripture here describes the ocean as a child of God as are, we therefore….
And from our sister the ocean all life flowed out of. Biblically and scientifically speaking. Perhaps this is why we use water in baptism…maybe this is why Jesus invited Peter out into the deep.

Can you imagine having been out fishing all night long and have nothing to show for it.  You are exhausted and worried.  Not only does this mean no food on your table but it also means no income and also means no fish for the village and the people in your community.  So many people depend upon your catch.

Suddenly here comes Jesus with a crowd following him. Many of the people you know for they are from yours and the neighboring villages. Jesus gets into your boat and asks you to put out a little way so he can teach.

it is interesting, well at least to me, we know nothing of what Jesus’ message was that day.  There is no hint as to what he had to say. What we do know is that as soon as he was finished, he turned to Simon and said; “Put out into the deep and let down your nets to catch something.” Of course, Simon lets his brain engage before his heart and states “Master the whole night we have been laboring and caught nothing…” Then his heart engages, and he says, “but at your word I will let down my nets.”

So Jesus basically had Simon as a captive audience.  Simon alone was in that boat with him and Simon saw all and heard all.  You have to see this in your mind’s eye…Jesus asks Simon to row out a little way and sits down to teach.

As he finishes teaching Jesus asks Simon to go out and cast in o the deep. We then get a glimpse of stubborn Simon and even though he is being kind of practical even in that moment he knows enough to call Jesus Master, then as he goes out and he catches a bunch of fish in spite of his skepticism so much so it is about to sink his boat and that of the others who were there as well.
This could be the end of the story.  Peter has a miraculous catch all the people are fed. No one is hungry physically or spiritually.

“Peter falls down on his face and says, “Get out of here, Jesus!” Literally, “Get out of my neighborhood. You don’t belong here. I don’t want you here. Go away.” Peter is more comfortable with a fixed, failed reality. “We have worked all night long; we haven’t got any fish.” He is more comfortable with what he knows. He’s more comfortable with what he is dealing with now, than the wild, unexplainable, uncontrollable life of faith that Jesus invites him to. 

The kingdom of God is a terrifying thing. It is wild, like the proud waves of the ocean. It’s uncontrollable, like two boats sinking with fish. It’s full of life, like the empty tomb on Easter morning. 

“Get out of here, Jesus,” says Peter. “I’m not up to this. I’m not good enough for this.” 
Like Peter, we are often more comfortable on the shore with what we know, than in trusting the wild, surprising abundance Jesus brings. So, when it comes right down to it, we’re often better with Good Friday than with Easter. We are good at the worrying. We’re good at the analyzing. “This country is going downhill.” “They are dangerous.” “What will I do if . . .?” Fill in the blank. We are good at sitting in darkness that we know. What really scares us is Easter. The unmanageable, mysterious, powerful grace that knows no bounds and can’t be contained. The deep water of God’s infinite love. That is enough to make us say, “Get out of the neighborhood, Jesus. I’m not up to this.” 

But life cannot be contained. And God cannot be held back. So, Jesus responds, “Do not be afraid.” Hold on to that hope that got you into the boat right now. Remember that there is abundance and freedom in God. There is God’s love and provision, even in dark times. There can be community and caring neighbors. Remember that, “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”[2]

We do not know what Jesus said to the People, Jesus has said nothing to Simon Peter except move out to deeper water.  Let’s get out of this shallow place and go deeper. 

That is the invitation to us to day to go deeper.

As we enter into this season of creation, as we walk into the waters of ocean Sunday, we know how dangerous and risky new adventures can be.  We know we are called to move out of our safety zone on the shore.  We know we are called to move away from; “but what can I do?” or “if I do anything it won’t make a difference.”

One of the purposes of the season of creation is to draw our attention to how we care for the earth and the drastic environmental changes that are happening.  The very lake, the sea of galilee in today’s gospel has been shrinking.  This is due to climate related drought and over use as the fresh water source for centuries.

So Israel is building two more deslizination plants and will be pumping 100 milion gallons of fresh water into the sea of gallillee not only sustaining it but making it a fresh water rsevoir.

That is good stewardship of Gods given water. And since it is ocean Sunday we have all seen pictures of what plastics are doing in our ocean.  How climate change is agffecting the waters and the coral reefs.  Though it is but a short drive to the ocean many of us do not feel connected to it and wonder what we can do

What can we do as in-landers to preserve our ocean and be responsible for our sister the ocean?

1. Mind Your Carbon Footprint and Reduce Energy Consumption
Reduce the effects of climate change on the ocean by leaving the car at home when you can and being conscious of your energy use at home and work. A few things you can do to get started today: Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, take the stairs, and bundle up or use a fan to avoid oversetting your thermostat.

Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable.

3. Use Fewer Plastic Products 
Plastics that end up as ocean debris contribute to habitat destruction and entangle and kill tens of thousands of marine animals each year. To limit your impact, carry a reusable water bottle, store food in nondisposable containers, bring your own cloth tote or other reusable bag when shopping, and recycle whenever possible.

4. Help Take Care of the Beach
Whether you enjoy diving, surfing, or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. Explore and appreciate the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks and coral. Go even further by encouraging others to respect the marine environment or by participating in local beach cleanups.

5. Don't Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life
Certain products contribute to the harming of fragile coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.

6. Be an Ocean-Friendly Pet Owner
Read pet food labels and consider seafood sustainability when choosing a diet for your pet. Never flush cat litter, which can contain pathogens harmful to marine life. Avoid stocking your aquarium with wild-caught saltwater fish, and never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water, a practice that can introduce non-native species harmful to the existing ecosystem.

7. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean
Many institutes and organizations are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. Find a national organization and consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy. If you live near the coast, join up with a local branch or group and get involved in projects close to home.

8. Influence Change in Your Community
Research the ocean policies of public officials before you vote or contact your local representatives to let them know you support marine conservation projects. Consider patronizing restaurants and grocery stores that offer only sustainable seafood, and speak up about your concerns if you spot a threatened species on the menu or at the seafood counter.

9. Travel the Ocean Responsibly
Practice responsible boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities on the water. Never throw anything overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. If you’re set on taking a cruise for your next vacation, do some research to find the most eco-friendly option.

10. Educate Yourself About Oceans and Marine Life
All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you’ll want to help ensure its health—then share that knowledge to educate and inspire others.[3]