As an Urban Green Space, we are participants in this environmental initiative. Our care of God’s creation is a vital element in being the church. We come at it out of our theological lens of a Trinitarian God. A God who is, creator of the universe, a God who sent Jesus to redeem not only us, but the whole world, all animals and living things in it, and a God who breathes and enlivens us by the Holy Spirit, in the work of caring for God’s creation. In this kind of, recycling, renewing, Trinitarian formula, if you will, we also make room for sin and failure, both in us and of the world. Somewhere between our faith in a sovereign God, who has given us a graciously loving, incarnate Son, and our increasing awareness of the tipping point for global warming that is upon us, we must reconcile what our faith says, and what it calls us to do, and stand up and be answerable to the kind of people of faith God is asking us to become!
Ok, so I’ll start off with a confession. I did not complete my 30 miles of biking this week, as I pledged! Don’t worry, I have excuses! Rain got in the way on Friday night, as I was getting ready to leave for Mozart and Merlot, and a meeting down in Hyde Park during the week ran way late on Thursday. Both times I had to fire up the car instead of hopping on the bike, as I’d planned. Do I need to make confession, in the company of my sisters and brothers, and before God? How integrated is our practice of caring for creation with our belief in a Trinitarian God? If God loves us unconditionally, a “God [who] has destined us for adoption as his children through J.C...” as St Paul said, through whom “we have redemption… according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us,” isn’t that enough to cover us? Aren’t we done? Don’t we now just wait for the happy ending in the resurrection? Or is there perhaps something more about the incarnate nature of God in Jesus? Isn’t there perhaps something divine, something holy, calling to us now, something nagging at us, something that won’t let us go, Someone opening up a way out of no way, that in prayer and hope, in faith and love, impinges on us right now?!
Blessed be the holy Trinity, + one God,
the creator of wind and rain, field and ocean,
the bread of life coming down from above,
the power at work within us and this world.
This beautiful Trinitarian formula which we hear as we begin our liturgy every Sunday morning of the summer, reminds us of the faith we are called to, a faith that continues to form us, and a faith that is alive in us, wherever and whenever we are at work in the world. And so, with an authentic, living faith, inertia, dead-ness, is not an option.
The battle over climate change that we’ve been engaged in, is full of both faithful devotees and fierce deniers. Politically, we are frozen in place by opposing teams. To make changes in our over production of carbon emitting fossil fuels, we need an organized concerted effort that has to include, national political action. But right now, neither presidential candidate is even talking about it. Until the body politic, us, make up our minds about it, they will continue to see it as a losing proposition. And so, we hear more about the Kardashian family in the news than climate change. Somebody actually counted, comparing, the latest climate disaster from carbon, the dying coral reefs and ocean fish populations, happening much faster than predicted. And we hear the Kardashian’s in the news, 40 times more often. You have to really dig, to find the climate stories that are out there, like, excessive nuclear leaking at the California San Onofre nuclear plant, water contamination here in Chicago, increasing shortages of clean water around the globe, or, a cloud of plastic trash in the ocean the size of Texas. All these are mostly lost in Kardashian-land. Yet the rich and famous, who are in no way integrated into the real world, mostly seize our attention.
And yet, here, in God’s very good creation, is where we are called – in the world that God has made, redeemed and sent us. The distractions and denials are nothing new really, certainly not for Jesus and the disciples. We have only to look at our gospel reading, and the scandalous story of the beheading of John the Baptist! Scandal both attracts and repels us, as we discussed last Sunday. And the scandal here is no different. At the birthday bash for King Herod, a high flyer party for the rich and famous, the highlight was his daughter’s present, a special dance for him and all the royal guests. Amid all the revelry and excitement, Herod promised her whatever she wanted up to half of his kingdom. Maybe he figured, it’s all the family, what can it hurt. But as the story goes, she conspires with her mother, who had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, and so she tells her daughter to ask for the head of John the baptizer. It’s the daughters’ idea to ask for it on a platter. Herod knows better, but doesn’t want to look weak. The games of the rich and famous, not integrated or incarnate in the real world, never-the-less, can affect us who do, and who believe, and work, and care for God’s creation.
The same thing will happen to Jesus, of course, at the end of the story. Jesus will be arrested on trumped up charges, and bound up and put in prison like John. He will be shuffled back and forth between the rich and famous, who aren’t really impressed with the itinerant peasant from Galilee, who pretend to wash their hands of their responsibility, yet send him to the cross, just to appease the crowds at the Passover celebration, and so they can get back to their courtiers in their own version of Kardashian Land.
Caring for God’s creation by the rich and famous has led only to excessive misuse of the earth’s resources. And now, even our elected leaders listen more to them, and will continue to, unless we speak with a passionate convicted voice. The earth itself is rising up in angry swirls of tsunami’s, droughts, floods, and heat-waves, and still, climate deniers, like Herodias’ mother holding a grudge, want to kill off the world and it’s testimony against them.
The good news is that many people are acting locally to live more simply, reduce their carbon footprint, and desire a world that is habitable for our children. Green Week is catching on. Individuals and businesses are finding ways to make a difference. We, are rediscovering our confession in a triune God that loves the world and all of creation, one God, the creator of wind and rain, field and ocean, the bread of life coming down from above, the power at work within us and this world. But the disconnected rich and famous, acting on whims, still hold much of the power to change the agenda for the country. Voting is not gunna be enough. Green Week is not enough. We need Green Year and Green Decade! We need to live out our confession of faith in our powerful and living God, to care for creation in all that we do, the things we buy, the resources we consume. We need a Green life-style for us individually, and for every social and political aspect of God’s world we live in. We need to love Green Week, and want it never to end. Then God will be praised in all creation.