Sunday, April 22, 2012

3rd Sunday of Easter (April 22) Sermon)

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”
These words written by the great reformer, Martin Luther, nearly 500 years ago, reminds us that Spring is a wonderful symbol of Resurrection; that from the death of wintertime, comes new birth, new life in Spring, although if you have allergies, I suspect a little more winter would have been preferred!

As we continue to celebrate the 50 days of Eastertide, of our Lord’s resurrection, today we also celebrate Earth Day, a secular holiday that began 43 years ago to highlight Earth’s natural environment and bring awareness to what is negatively affecting our environment.

Martin Luther’s quote reminds us that we too have connection to Earth Day, because we recognize that the Earth is part of God’s creation, just as we are.

But more than that, we are called to be stewards of this creation that God has given into our care, that conservation is important so that we can pass this planet to our children & our children’s children in a healthier state that we received it. To do this, I believe, is to remind ourselves that it is God’s creation.
As Meister Eckhart of the thirteenth century put it: “Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things. Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God. If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature – even a caterpillar – I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature.”
This planet abounds with God’s creation, its creation is full of God, full of life, for it is God that gives life to our world. And we are God’s children, the first letter of John remind us, and we called to do what is right. Part of this is our call as Christians to stand up and witness to our Lord’s creation that it shouldn’t be exploited, neglected or destroyed for profit.

How can we bear witness?

Many years ago, a group of settlers made their home in a beautiful valley between two spectacular mountain ranges. One day a young man managed to climb the highest mountain peak overlooking the valley and the village. What he saw took his breath away. He told his family and friends that he saw the world from the perspective of an eagle; he saw the world as one in all its beautiful color.

Everyone wanted to see what the young man had seen - but the climb was treacherous. Several villagers slipped and fell, some were killed trying. A stonemason in the village decided to build a series of steps up the mountain. Working with only a hammer and a chisel, it took him months to create the first step. His neighbors scoffed at the idea - this could never be completed in their lifetimes. But, undaunted, the mason continued to work on his stone path. Years later, the mason, now an old man, had finished just four steps. The villagers thought that was the end of the project - until an apprentice of the old mason took up the work. Despite the ridicule, he continued carving the steps up the mountain. Years later, the second mason was succeeded by a third, then a fourth, and later a fifth.

Decades went by. The village grew into a city; electric lights replaced the lighted street poles; automobiles made the horse-drawn wagons obsolete; new businesses were established. But the work on the steps continued. The stoneworkers were considered eccentric oddities by the townsfolk, but everyone agreed that they were the most determined people they had ever met. Over the years, nearly fifty stone carvers worked on the steps.

One day, almost a hundred years after it began, the last stone carver walked into the office of the mayor. "The work is done," the mason said. "These tools belonged to the first stonemason. They have been handed down each time another mason took up the task. They are our gift to the village. The work is done." [From Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance by Joseph M. Marshall III.]
The ministry of the Risen Christ has been turned over to his first witnesses, those who had walked with him, heard his words and experienced the Resurrection. Now the apostles and the first Christian communities have passed on the work of building the path to us, making us the stone carvers for our own time.

In our struggles to live his Gospel in the simplicity of our everyday lives, in the complexities of our work places, in our work to realize our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families, we complete a step to the reign of God, we add one more stone to the foundation of God's kingdom, we live into the Springtime of God’s resurrection for all of the creation.

So let us join together in committing ourselves to live into the Gospel on this earth day, to our work as God’s masons in God’s creation and be such witnesses in this glorious Eastertide. I invite you to turn to page BCP 259 and the prayer for the stewardship of creation, and let us pray it together.

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

No comments: