Genesis 1:1-2:2/ Psalm 8/ Luke 6:43-45
What Are We Sowing?
You Get What You Sow
There is a Korean proverb, “Where you sow beans, there, beans grow; and where you sow red beans, there, red beans grow.” You can probably guess what it means. You get what you sow. It’s about cause and consequence. If you sow beans, you get beans. If you spoil your children, they grow up with a great sense of entitlement and ego. If I practise my piano pieces very carefully and solidify my memory, I probably won’t have a memory lapse while performing them. Every action has consequences.
What we have been experiencing in recent years with extreme climate events is the same. We have exploited our earthly resources in the name of progress. We have used our position as the most intelligent creatures on earth to use nature and other animals any way we wanted to satisfy our greed.
We read the first creation story, mostly in Genesis chapter 1. Unlike the second creation story, the Adam and Eve story, which is like a folk tale/ Hebrew creation mythology, Genesis chapter 1 is written to be read out loud as a ritual, as in during a worship meeting.
The process of creating everything according to Genesis 1 should not be understood literally, but it was written with great insight about how everything was actually created, and this was long before science could provide with plausible theories based on evidence on the matter. Everything was created step by step. God created humans the last.
I remember reading in a science book for youth that, if the earth’s history were a year, humans appeared several seconds before the last day of December ends. The important thing to take away from today’s Genesis reading is how God created humans the last and gave them the commandment to take care of the others. Okay, the Bible actually says, “subdue it.” However, we should not understand the word “subdue” as “conquer” or “exploit.” The Hebrew Bible (that we call the “Old Testament”) presents humanity not as the owner of nature but as its steward, strictly accountable to its true owner. We should remember that, as stewards, we are accountable to our Creator. We are responsible for the wellbeing of all God’s creation. So, how have we been doing at this job? What have we been sowing? What fruit will we produce?
Good Tree Bears Good Fruit
Just like the Korean proverb, today’s gospel reading teaches us that a good tree doesn’t bear bad fruit and a bad tree doesn’t bear good fruit. Likewise, a good person produces good and an evil person produces evil. To put it another way, we can tell a good person by the metaphorical fruit that they produce. If someone seems good but doesn’t put good things out in the world, we will know that they are not a good person. If we have evil thoughts in us, evil things will come out of us. So, what is inside us?
In a story of a Native American mythology, an elder of a tribe tells a story of two wolves fighting within humans, one representing evil and everything that is negative and bad, and the other representing everything that is good and positive. Then his grandson asks, “Which wolf wins?” The man says, “The one you feed.”
For today’s topic, this story and our gospel story teach us that we have choices. What are we sowing (both metaphorically and literally)? Which wolf are we feeding? Should we exploit our planet until everything is gone? Should we look ahead and plan a sustainable living for the wellbeing of the planet and for our descendants? School kids went on climate strikes because they are about to inherit a gloomy future from us adults. We need to make decisions for our children. What shall we sow for them?
We Are God’s Stewards
We are all God’s creation: humans, animals, plants, and natural elements such as water. God created us beautifully and saw that “It was good.” What should we do as God’s creation? We should appreciate and honour our Creator, singing praises. “O God, our God, how glorious is your name in all the earth! What are we mortals that you should be mindful of us, mere human beings that you should care for us? You have made us rulers over all your creation, and put all things under our feet.” We should praise God and also live up to God’s expectation for us. Like the psalmist declares, as well as Genesis chapter 1, God put us in charge. How have we ruled? Are we benevolent rulers or tyrants?
It is time for us to act. Carbon dioxide is heating the air, ice caps are melting, oceans are being depleted, wildfires, floods, extreme temperatures are increasing, and both people and animals are suffering and dying. Our local neighbours have lost their properties in wildfires, or even their lives. The rest of us live in fear. The sound of a fire engine makes our heart skip a beat. Seeing clouds covering mountains makes us jump because we think it is smoke. Globally, water apocalypse is approaching, and already some parts of the world are experiencing water shortage. So, let us get together and ask ourselves, “What are we doing about it? What are we sowing for posterity?”
As for how to act, there are a lot of different possible solutions to the problem, and we should keep learning and exploring them. We should do what we can to change our personal life to be more sustainable. We should also hold big corporations accountable for the massive environmental impact their businesses have. We will keep exploring these in the future, but today, let us leave this place with a sense of identity as God’s appointed stewards for each other and all creation. Let us start learning how we can sow good to bear good fruit for our descendants to have a healthy planet. Let us ask ourselves everyday, “What are we sowing today for posterity?”