↓Duh- ↑duh, ↓duh- ↑duh… (music to Jaws). The fin circles around, closer to shore, and oh so near the children and adults swimming at Amity Island resort, on a crowded 4th of July holiday. Who will warn the vacationers frolicking in the water? Can’t they see the danger!
Jaws! Who doesn’t love it? The cult classic, which, BTW, horrified its producers in 1975, by running over it’s $4m budget by more than double, wound up making them over $470m, all the while, scaring the be-jesus out of movie goers with its captivating fascination! The scary sea monster, a great white shark, became the darling of countless movie fans. Jaws seems to touch us, in some primitive brain-stem way. It touches that ancient nerve deep within us, about the danger of what lies just beneath the surface of the sea, a place of wonder and fear of the unknown.
People were maimed and killed by the jaws of the “leading character”, as director Stephen Spielberg liked to call the shark. But the threat of the deep sea, the great unknown, combined with the attempts of the authorities to put a lid on the truth, and the resulting rumors and uncertainty that spread like wildfire, is what causes the greatest fear, on Amity Island.
This is the same nerve that touched people throughout the ages, of which we have sung in our Psalm today:
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too man- | y to number, living things both | small and great.
And then the verse about that Leviathan, the Jaws of their time:
26There go the ships | to and fro, and Leviathan, which you made for the | sport of it.
Leviathan loomed large in their imaginations, yet in Psalm 104, God is in command of all things, even of this scary sea monster. Leviathan, the mythical beast of chaos, is not denied by the Creator, but put in its place, a mere play-thing to the almighty, just another of the many creatures God made “in the beginning,” on the 5th day.
But the last creature made, it turns out, created on the 6th day, is the one to really fear - us. Humans, were the only creatures made in the image of God, and so given responsibility to care for the earth, and, all of creation. God’s loves creation and describes it as, “very good.” We are to enjoy it and have dominion over our entire planet, which is not the same thing as, domination and unquestioned authority over it. But we are given, to care for it, and be in partnership with it. Yet the responsibility, being so great, opens the door to its opposite temptation, its misuse and abuse.
After Jaws came out, there was an animal rights back-lash, of a sort, and rightly so. The success of the movie was not questioned, but the authenticity of the great white shark’s appetite. Though there have been occasions of sharks maiming and even killing swimmers, such anomolies seem to stem from our malfeasance to care fro the ocean and the warming of waters due to climate change, which disorients them and brings them unusually close to shore. At any rate, they’re DNA is not programmed to attack humans.
The greater creature to fear, is us. Today we witness the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico, the seas of our back yard, rich in seafood and delicate estuaries, and manifold creatures of sea, land and air. Now, it is all under attack, and gasping for breath – the water itself, and all life in and around it, from the plankton and shellfish, to dolphin and sharks, to the winged birds – all in danger, or dying, the full extent of which we don’t even yet know. It is not the scary, unknown Leviathan, or even Jaws, which has brought fear, but the process of deep water drilling, on our behalf, given the go ahead by government regulators, gone slack, and fueled by the ego’s and greed of oil executives, unable to restrain themselves from the lure of, “More”.
And so, let me take you on just a short side trip, into the gospel story from Luke, and the parable of the wealthy ‘fool,’ that Jesus tells. For here is a very rich man, a billionaire executive that has it all, and then on top of it, has such a profitable year he doesn’t know what to do with the windfall. He gathers no democratic round table to make his decision, but consults only “himself,” his conclusion being, to stockpile it, all for himself, in bigger and more costly barns. What should I do with “my” crops, “my” barns, “my” grain, and “my” goods? “Me, me, mine!” As Paul said to Timothy, it’s not money, but “the love of money which is a root of all kinds of evil.”
The thing that makes the wealthy man a “fool” in Jesus eyes, is not that he is rich, but that he is a ‘poor steward’ of what he has. He is just the opposite of Joseph, who advises Pharaoh down in Egypt. You know, Joseph and his Technicolor Dream Coat?! Joseph told the wealthy Pharaoh to store up all the food he could for seven years, while the crops were producing abundantly, because the following seven years would be famine years. But the difference is, with Joseph and Pharaoh, they didn’t just create a business plan that would make them rich, but together they planned ahead to feed and save the Egyptians, and all the surrounding country’s, including Joseph’s family in Israel. Joseph and Pharaoh had vision! The rich fool, just like some executives we know, just wanted to live the good life, “relax, eat, drink, be merry.”
But, what if your life is demanded of you this day? That, is our question! What would your legacy be? And how do you want to be known? Do you want to be remembered as, a Joseph, with the foresight to feed and save his family and others -- not to mention that gorgeous coat! Or, do you want to be remembered as, a rich fool!
In the ecology of God’s creation, the greater misdeed surely must be that without a vision, without a purpose for the gifts and riches we’ve been given -- to live the high life, is to take away the gifts and resources of the creation, for one’s self, and slight the many for whom it was meant to be shared with. God has made the earth and all it’s multitude of creatures: inter-dependent, created to be in relationship, to care for one another, and thus to share its resources. Within that vision, there is abundance, God tells us! In the worldview of the rich fool, it’s just a narcissistic game: ‘whoever dies with the most toys, wins.’
So our question to discuss this morning is: What are the earth’s resources for? What is our responsibility for the waste and over-consumption of our nation? Who is the great Leviathan of our time? Is the: reuse, reduce, recycle, model, enough? What is God calling us to do?
Take a minute and turn to the person next to you to discuss: What is God calling us to do to make our neighborhood and world greener? What is our responsibility in Caring for Creation?