family@michael Service 04/07/21 (5th Sunday after Trinity)
(Revd Jeanette Hamer - Minister)
Tread Lightly, Think Smartly
(Based on Mark 4:35-41)
In both our readings we have seen that God creates and he does it with intention and in order. He creates a place for life to exist at first and then having created the habitat, he adds the myriad of creatures, in the sea, the sky and on the land.
Lastly, he creates humankind, he creates us.
In our Communion service, in the words of the Eucharistic Prayer, we say this,
‘Blessed are you, Lord God, our light and our salvation,
to you be glory and praise for ever.
From the beginning, you have created all things
and your works echo the silent music of your praise.
In the fulness of time you made us in your image, the crown of all creation.
You give us breath and speech, that with angels and archangels
and all the powers of heaven we may find a voice to sing your praise.’
We are part of his creation yes, but it belongs to him.
God has appointed humanity to be caretakers of this planet, all aspects of it.
In Genesis we are told that humans are to be fruitful and multiply and to have a special role and power over all creation. This role of power we have been given is not a selfish dictatorship though, it should be more of an authoritative yet responsible mentality, one of protection, support and care.
We have been entrusted as stewards of his creation,
not to use it to serve our individual needs.
As time has gone on, we see how greed has been responsible for the destruction of swathes of the worlds living environments, with no thought of the pollution,
the endangering of wildlife to the point of extinction and the poverty it has often created for indigenous people.
We see in the story of creation that everything God made was good.
I can imagine the delight of God as he created the wonderful creatures.
How many of you enjoy the wildlife programmes on the TV?
The artistry in design of creatures great and small, from microbes to elephants.
The wide variety of wildlife, vegetation and environment.
What I find fascinating is the filming of the darkest depths of the oceans, where the cameras and lights have found that even there, God’s creation has been perfection,
in the nooks and crannies where they are not normally seen by human eyes.
We know from scripture that God loves his world.
What struck me in preparing for this service are the words of John 3:16.
I saw them in a different way.
What are the words?
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
Listen to them again, ‘God so loved the world.’
Whilst we are, as we have already said, ‘the crown of his creation,’ it does not say,
‘God so loved the humans’ He loves everything he has created
and as the bottom verse on the front of your service sheet states,
‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning
as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.'
God longs to be reunited at the end with all of his creation,
with a new heaven and a new earth.
God created the world; he loves the world and so it belongs to him.
Psalm 24 reminds us that the earth is the Lord’s and all the fulness thereof.
God uses his creation to show us his qualities and nature.
We see his glory around us and even the sight of it fills us with praise,
the scenery, the landscapes, the plants, the animals all tell us of his glory,
without uttering a word.
Psalm 19 says this,
‘ The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.’
So, if we, as caretakers have been given the task to preserve and look after this creation, how are we doing with it worldwide now?
Are we continuing to nurture it or do we abuse the power we have?
Are we having an impact on creation?
We can see from across the world examples on how humanity’s desire to have more and more has been at the cost of nature.
One of the pieces of film that has really struck me over the last couple of years was one of a diver swimming in the sea, somewhere out in the Indian ocean, near one of the places that people like to visit because of its beaches and weather.
This place is also where a lot of the plastic rubbish that has been dumped,
floats in the sea like a huge Island, entrapping marine life as it goes.
Since the 1950s, plastic waste has accumulated in our seas.
I have read that in just one week, in America, there are enough discarded single use plastic bottles to go round the globe 5 times – and that is only one country’s statistic.
There is much debate about Global warming but we have to acknowledge what we can see all around us, and the negative effect of human activities on God’s creation. Factories polluting the air and the waters; the dumping of toxic waste
and the stripping bare of forests and jungles.
We are dependent on God’s created world,
just as much as all the other creatures that live in it.
If we show such disregard for the natural world, how can it continue to sustain us?
We will eventually reach a time when it is too late.
We cannot say that our individual efforts won’t make a difference.
We have been called by God to be stewards of his world.
One of the five marks of mission for the Church is this:
‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation
and sustain and renew the life of the earth’
So, with this in mind,
we need to challenge how we as individuals and a church, interact with the world.
Do our choices and actions show us to be good stewards of what God has given us?
What can we do?
Buy less and so waste less
Choose Reusable items rather than disposable
Buy in bulk and reduce packaging
Recycle and repurpose
Buy second hand rather than new
Give away to others
Reduce paper waste
STOP USING TOXIC MATERIAL
Look at your cleaning products and use eco-friendly
ones that do not pollute our water
When possible, buy organic, avoiding the use of pesticides etc.
USE LESS FOSSIL FUELS AND USE MORE RENEWAB
Use fuel efficient transport
Walk or bike if you can
Consider your carbon footprint
God has given us the task to be caretakers of his world.
We need to accept the part we play in its destruction and say we are sorry for that.
It may be that we have to give things up for the sake of protecting the world.
One thing we are called to do is to ask for forgiveness,
not only ourselves but on behalf of humanity for the past.
John Stott, the Theologian said,
‘We must learn to think and act ecologically.
We repent of extravagance, pollution and wanton destruction.
We recognise that human beings find it easier to subdue the earth
than they do to subdue themselves.’
So, what can we do?
If we are called by God to care for his world,
what can we do as individuals and as a church to help protect it?
We may think that as individuals, anything we do will not make much difference. Well, do you know the starfish story?
‘One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”
The youth replied,
“Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.
If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.
Then, smiling at the man, he said…..
“I made a difference for that one.”
Let’s make a difference for our world.
I’d like to introduce you to our Pledgehog, kindly made by Joanna.
He is going to be here all week as part of the ‘Tread Lightly, think smartly’ pilgrimage.
I would like you each of you to think of something you could do to help the environment.
It doesn’t have to be something big, but like the starfish, anything will help.
Make a Pledge to do it and write it on the label you were given.
Let’s make a pledge to protect our world.