Welcome to the Season of Creation. An ecumenical, global, church-wide season from September 1 – a Day of Prayer for Creation, ending October 4, the feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. The global theme this year is “Let Justice and Peace Flow” like “A Mighty River,” referencing Amos 5:24. The image of a mighty river is expressed in the bright blue streaming across the front of our worship space and around the font, and the water and earth colours of creation in the fabric, and even the trees that we will see changing colour through these south windows that are more visible in this orientation of our space. The Season of Creation is, in words from the website, a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together…” joining with siblings “…in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home.” A joint statement of Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church and Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, states, “Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We have inherited a garden; we must not leave a desert for our children.” The Season of Creation website, referenced and linked in our Crossroads newsletter, is full of resources for exploring, gathering, lamenting, celebrating, praying for, and committing ourselves to actions in care and justice and peace for the earth.
And doesn’t it feel like this season has a greater urgency or weight this year? The record number of wildfires here in BC and elsewhere in the world, the extreme storms and flooding, and in other regions the lack of rain and long-term drought, all indicators that a less friendly planet is becoming more and more a reality, our home. And the various facts of the climate crisis, a warming planet, more extreme weather, changing habitats, decreasing biodiversity, and a greater impact on more vulnerable people, especially those in poverty, and the clear connection to race and oppression of Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour. All of this is coming true in our time.
We cannot hide from the reality of the earth crying out in crisis. There is an urgency and importance to our recognizing in various ways a “season of creation in crisis” that we are in, acknowledging the gift and beauty of God’s earth, lamenting the harm we have done and are doing to the earth and the injustice to vulnerable people and creatures, and committing ourselves collectively and individually to practises of greater justice and peace in care for the earth, all people, and all creation. “Let justice and peace flow, like a mighty river,” is our urgent prayer and work together, our calling as God’s people.
Today, in the continuing story of God’s people of Israel, we meet a now grown Moses keeping flocks for his father-in-law Jethro, a priest of Midian, at Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. All of these references locate Moses and this great calling story that we heard, with a burning bush, the voice of God calling to Moses, barefoot on holy ground, God’s observance and hearing the people’s cries of suffering under oppression, the promise of a new and good land, God’s calling and sending Moses to Pharoah to bring the people out of Egypt, and the declaration by God, “I am who I am,” the God of our ancestors. Despite the miraculous wonders in this story of God calling Moses, this is a calling story for all of us. God calls each of us and all of us together to serve God and God’s good purpose, sending us to bring out of suffering all who are oppressed.
And isn’t this calling today our being sent to free the earth and all creation from the suffering and oppression we as humanity have put upon it. Out of fire! in the bushes and trees and homes consumed by it, God is calling us, showing us that all the earth is holy ground as Indigenous teachings have reminded us, and that God’s desire is for a good land for all God’s peoples and for all creatures. God is calling and sending us, you, to any and all “pharaohs” of profit, of progress, of consumption, of destruction, of inequity and injustice, to bring all people and all creation out of oppression to a good earth for all. This is God’s calling and sending us today in this season of a creation in crisis, to bring out of oppression and harm, the earth and all God’s creation. We may ask like Moses, “Who am I, who are we, that we should go to these pharaohs and bring the earth out of suffering?” And God’s answer is, I AM, has sent you!
Despite excuses and apprehension, can we be so bold as Moses to follow this calling and go where we are sent to free the earth from suffering? And what does that look like? As I said there are many resources, in the Season of Creation materials and all around us about individual and collective actions and organizations and strategies and examples and inspiration.
Just a few examples: A Rocha – an international Christian organization which, inspired by God’s love, engages in scientific research, environmental education, community-based conservation projects and sustainable agriculture. A Rocha’s mission is to live out God’s calling to care for creation and equip others to do likewise. …(envisioning) a hope-filled world where communities flourish as people and nature thrive together …(through commitment to) Christian faith, conservation, community, cultural diversity and collaboration; with resources for living lighter, on water, food, waste, and transport, for churches, communities, schools, and homes. The Christian Aid organization and its #makepolluterspay campaign, recognizing the truth that, The biggest polluters are responsible for the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis. It's time to make polluters pay. The people who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are dealing with damage to harvests and homes, right now. They are losing their lives, land and culture, right now. And a National Action campaign day on September 23.
I have taken to heart one of the simplest strategies from scientists for responding to the climate crisis – “electrify everything.” That now includes cars, home heating, lawn care and solar production for our home. Another simple strategy for some, including in our extended family is “buy nothing new” (or as little as possible) as part of supporting more local circulating economies. And we can find inspiration in this community and among one another, including Nathan and Candyce and Pastor Lyndon and their commitment to bicycles as primary transportation, made possible for many more people with electric bikes, and the gardens and actions and commitments of many of you. And so much more! to motivate and inform and move and inspire us to collective action, including and maybe especially with Indigenous neighbours and communities and their teachings and commitments to the sacredness of the earth,
and the interconnectedness of all creation to Creator and living in harmony and goodness together. All of it contributing to an honest reckoning with the truth of the climate crisis and an increasingly unfriendly planet now and in the future, and loving, hopeful acts and living in care for one another, all creatures, and the whole earth, as one creation and Creator, together, to let justice and peace flow like a mighty river.
And there is and will be resistance, all around and within us. In the gospel reading today we continue from the confession of Peter last Sunday that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed, child of the living God, to Jesus today speaking to his followers about what that God-given identity and purpose will mean, undergoing great suffering and death, and on the third day, raised. And Peter gets into what could be described as a shouting match with Jesus, that God forbid this ever happen to Jesus. And we heard Jesus’ hard and challenging response, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things.” And Jesus calls Peter and all of us to his way of self-denial, to taking up the cross, meaning the way of suffering with and for those who suffer, the oppressed, including the suffering earth, to seek and live and die and be raised to let God’s justice and peace flow like a mighty river for the good of all creation.
Maybe to begin this Season of Creation in crisis, we need to return to Paul’s words of what it means to live God’s calling as communities of Christ: 9Let love be genuine… (Rom.12:9-18)
In this Season of Creation in crisis, God is calling you, calling us and sending us together from this holy ground to take up the cross and face forces of evil and destruction of people and this sacred planet, with love and hope, joining with others in God’s bringing people, this earth and all creation out of suffering and death, to life, to let justice and peace flow, like a mighty river, to create thriving communities and all creation together. Who are we to do this? I AM has said it and sends us. And it shall be so… in all our relations. Amen.