With reference to Exodus 20:1-20, Psalm 19 and Matt. 21:33-46.
Even though we are still following the readings for the Season of Creation, we have gone from `rocks and trees and skies and seas’ to dropping right back into the middle of the Exodus story which we left off at the end of August shortly after Moses encounters the burning bush in the desert. I wondered what this had to do with the season of Creation – but maybe it has everything to do with it…
Merging the season of Creation with World Wide communion can bring us into an awareness of how we need to live in right relationship with our Creator, with the rest of humanity, and with all other living beings. We need to be as aware now, perhaps even more so, than when this rag-tag band of ex-slaves wandered through the desert in search of their identity and a land they could return to.
I could easily go through each of the Ten Commandments and remind you of how we as a species have messed up every one of them. The reality is that collectively we have, and we suffer the consequences. A report out just this past week, from the World Wildlife Fund states that “Between 1970 and 2010 populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish around the globe dropped 52 percent. This biodiversity loss occurs disproportionately in low-income countries—and correlates with the increasing resource use of high-income countries.”
I don’t want to think about that because it’s just too devastating, and yet to ignore it is like pretending there is no elephant in a room, even when you are falling over him.
In the gospel Jesus tells a story of a vineyard owner and some `worst nightmare’ tenants. He woos the critical priests and leaders into agreeing with the premise of justice that the parable discloses. Then Jesus quotes a line from Psalm 118: 22-23) “Surely you remember the scripture, Jesus says to them: “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone – we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it.”
Hi concludes then basically saying, `I am the rejected stone over which you stumble. Now look in the mirror, boys, and see how you have failed the One you claim to serve.’ No wonder they looked for a way to shut him up.
Lest we become smug, in every age, in every generation, and repeatedly in every life time, we need to ask ourselves – what is it that I stumble over, that God might be using to get my attention? This is what my friend Barb Vandermeer calls `God’s attitude adjustment’. These adjustments generally catch us off guard (or else we know how to guard against them). The death, or threat of death of nearly 50 percent of the earth’s animals between 1970 (yesterday) and now, surely should cause us to stumble and take a closer look.
And yet, I read an article in my local paper this week with dismay, as our local MP wonders what all the fuss is about, regarding climate change, and insists that the polar ice is growing by 40%, not melting at an alarming rate, according to any credible scientist… oh right, the federal government got rid of its scientists.
Will following the 10 Commandments answer all our questions when we live in a world of such complexities? Perhaps not, but we can still seek ways that are consistent with the Ten Commandments as we make decisions about what we value.
My friend Ray McGinnis, who lead the Writing through Transitions workshop last spring, writes: “For one day, on September 23, the United Nations held a Climate Summit to bring attention to issues regarding climate change. Many in the worldwide scientific community have produced research the past few decades warning that human reliance on fossil fuels is a key factor in changes in temperatures around the globe.
Changing one’s behaviour is never easy, even when we want to make a change. To make a change as a global village takes even more determination.
On the occasion of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, there were efforts to address climate change through campaigns focusing on where dollars are invested.
In January 2014, 17 foundations with combined assets of $2 billion committed to divesting from fossil fuel stocks and move their money to invest in clean energy. This is part of the Divest-Invest Philanthropy initiative. Among these 17 foundations are the Russell Family Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, and the John Merck Fund. Since that time, dozens more have committed to do the same…. Investments in technologies such as wind and solar power during the next 15 years are likely to be a key factor in determining the climate’s future, according to a new report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
Individuals can also play a role by hastening the transformation of business-as-usual by increasing demand for fossil-free financial products… It is one thing to encourage people to change, but without viable alternative energy sources, individuals can’t change their habits…”
On this World Wide Communion day when we acknowledge and celebrate that we are in relationship with the body of Christ throughout the world, let us remember we are also in relationship with our Creator and will all living beings. May all our choices – political, financial, and relational, reflect this belief. Amen.
Prayer: God of all, long ago you sought ways to instruct us to how to live so that we could thrive in relation with one another and with you. Help us to discern how to respond to the ecological challenges in our times as one way to listen again for your words of life. In Christ we pray. Amen
Communion Liturgy: Today, this simple and sacred meal has been shared in communities of faith in Sydney, Australia; in Tokyo, Japan; Manila, Philippines; Beijing, China, in Mumbai, India, Kiev, Ukraine; Rome, Italy, among Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, Oslo, Norway; Pretoria, South Africa; Accra, Ghana; Dublin, Ireland; Lisbon, Portugal; Brasilia, Brazil, Port au Prince, Haiti; Washington, USA, and in St John’s, Quebec City, Iqaluit, Regina, and at this hour it is being shared in churches throughout B.C. including now and here in Sicamous. In a few hours, they will be celebrating this simple and sacred meal on the Hawaiian Islands as World Wide Communion Sunday draws to a close.
We are a part of this vast global celebration. We are part of humanity with all its beauty and savagery, we are a part of the ecosystem of life.
In the words of the Jesuit philosopher Pierre (Tay-yard d-eh Char-danh) Teilhard de Chardin who finds himself without an altar, or bread, or cup, we pray:
“Over every living thing which is to spring up, to grow, to flower, to ripen during this day say again the words: ‘This is my Body’. And over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words which express the supreme mystery of faith: ‘This is my Blood’.”
Breaking of the bread/pouring of the cup
Take and eat that you may embody Christ in the world.
Take and drink, that you may claim your part in the covenant of life.